Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Signed Michael Schumacher championship hat up for auction to buy Ukrainian drone

Over two decades after Michael Schumacher won his fifth Formula One World Driver’s Championship, a cap he signed will go towards supporting Ukrainian defence. On Wednesday, Olexandr Petrenko launched a raffle for the hat with the goal of raising money for an Elf reconnaissance drone for the 2nd International Legion of Defence of Ukraine.

The cap was produced for the 2002 F1 World Championship, which Schumacher won in dominant fashion as he finished on the podium in every race with eleven wins. Afterwards, he autographed and gave the hat to Frank Sievers as a personal gift; Sievers, who designed Schumacher’s brand logo, was an assistant of Schumacher’s former manager Willi Weber. The latter’s company Weber Management GmbH provided a certificate of authenticity that will be delivered in tandem with the hat to the winner.

A single ticket in the raffle costs 200 hryvnias (approximately five euros), and more can be purchased with additional donations of the same amount. A winner will be randomly selected once the auction closes on 30 September. It hopes to raise seven million hryvnias (~€178,039), but the deadline can be extended if the goal is not reached in time.

Donations are collected through Monobank. Payments can also be made via PayPal and SWIFT, though those are not eligible for the raffle.

The raffle is overseen by Commonwealth-22, a Ukrainian project partnered with the 2nd International Legion. Since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began last February, Commonwealth-22 has donated over a thousand tonnes in humanitarian goods like food and medicine and over two hundred generators. Since fall 2022, the project is also partnered with Operational Command North.

Led by Colonel Ruslan Myroshnychenko, the 2nd International Legion primarily consists of Ukrainian, Belarusian, and Georgian troops.

“Michael Schumacher, a legend of Formula One, is a symbol of struggle to the last lap, a symbol of indestructibility and thirst for victory under any circmstance. This is symbolic in our time because the Ukrainian people are going through such a challenge right now: a struggle to the end, to victory and indestructible spirit,” explained Maks Podzigun, host of the Ukrainian-language F1Podcast.

The Elf drone is a Ukrainian-made unmanned aerial vehicle. Developed in Kharkiv and introduced in April, the drone is capable of reaching 140 km/h and can fly for up to two hours, making it a critical component of the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s reconnaissance behind Russian lines.

In collaboration with the Automobile Federation of Ukraine (FAU), Podzigun and Petrenko have organised various motorsport-themed initiatives to support the AFU. The duo recently auctioned off a flag and shirt signed by Schumacher’s longtime Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello to buy two military buggies aptly nicknamed “Rubens” and “Barrichello”, while Podzigun purchased gear for special forces troops in early September using proceeds from an auction for Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Charles Leclerc mini helmets.

Much of the racing world outside of Ukraine has joined in supporting the country amid Russian invasion, primarily in the form of humanitarian donations; sports car driver Michael Christensen conducted an auction for his 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona-winning watch that generated €88,800 for Save the Children. Most military-specific contributions are from domestic parties like former Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov giving his old Trophy Raid championship-winning car to the AFU, though international supports include NASCAR team owner Richard Childress providing ammunition and Lithuanian Dakar Rally drivers Antanas Juknevičius, Benediktas Vanagas, and Vaidotas Žala providing off-road vehicles. The Lithuanians also led a charity drive in the summer that donated 115,223 car first aid kits from their country.