In 1991, Michael Schumacher was at the very start of a Formula 1 career that would later see him capture seven championship titles. After making his F1 debut with the Jordan team, Schumacher joined Benetton, where he raced alongside accomplished F1 driver Nelson Piquet (and in ’92, Martin Brundle). Last weekend, a 1991-’92 Benetton Ford, raced by Piquet, Brundle and Schumacher, to his very first F1 podium finish at the 1992 Mexican Grand Prix, sold for a fee-inclusive 1,058,000 euros ($1.2 million) at a Bonhams auction in Monaco, easily breaking into the sale’s top-10.
Chassis B191B-06 debuted with the Benetton team at the 1991 Hungarian Grand Prix, where driver Piquet’s day ended early with a gearbox failure. Subsequent races saw Piquet drive chassis 06 to a fifth-place finish in Portugal, an 11th-place finish in Spain and a seventh-place finish in Japan. The 1991 season’s final race was Australia, and there Piquet finished fourth in chassis 06, in a rain-shortened race that also marked the end of his F1 driving career.
John Barnard’s chassis design carried over into the start of the 1992 season with only minor changes, still powered by a 3.5-liter Ford V-8, updated to Series VI form with pneumatically operated valves. New Benetton team driver Brundle was the first to drive the car during the 1992 season, qualifying eighth on the grid but retiring with clutch failure on lap two. For the season’s next race in Mexico, chassis 06 was assigned to Schumacher, who qualified the car third on the grid and delivered a third-place finish, his first podium in F1.
 Schumacher raced the car again in the 1992 Brazilian Grand Prix, qualifying fifth and capturing his second third-place finish in a row. Following this race, chassis 06 was retired by the team and replaced by the B192 chassis, which would later carry Schumacher to his first win at the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix.
As offered for sale, chassis 06 was described as in running order and “impeccably well-presented,” powered by a 72-degree Ford HB V-8 that revs to 13,800 RPM and sends an estimated 730 horsepower to the car’s six-speed-manual gearbox. Ideal for vintage racing, it’s also a piece of Formula 1 history that would likely be the centerpiece of any museum or private collection.
text credit: © 2016 Kurt Ernst / Hemmings
photo credit: © 2016 bonhams 1793