News from Formula 1 Society

Numbers in F1

-- Archived from 01/03/2021 --

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Race Numbers were introduced all the way back in 2014, with the start of the new hybrid era. In that time, the numbers shaded in below have been used in some capacity, with blue for the 2021 drivers, purple for full-time drivers, and grey for temporary drivers (FP1 drivers and step-ins etc…). Here are some of the stories of driver numbers throughout the last seven years.


The number 1 has been used across the world of motorsport for a long time to label the Championship winning driver. In Formula One, this started in 1974, the first year when race numbers were awarded for a whole season rather than per grands prix. Amusingly, the 1973 champion, Jackie Stewart had made the choice to leave the sport, and so the number 1 car was driven by Ronnie Peterson instead that year. From 2014 onwards, the previous years championship winner has had the choice of whether or not to run the number, and Sebastian Vettel did so in 2014, having had the same number for the three years prior. Lewis Hamilton however, who is the only other driver who has had the opportunity to choose it, has never done so.


Number 7 is the current number of Kimi Raikkonen. In 2014, when numbers were chosen, the Iceman told the media that he had run the number the year before and that he saw no reason to change it. 


The number 13 has traditionally not been used in motorsport, and before 2014, it had been used only once, in the 1963 Mexican Grand Prix, run by Mexican Moises Solana. 8 laps from the end, his engine gave up and he was unable to finish the race. In 2014 though, Pastor Maldonado chose the number, although he chose not to explain why. In his first race that year, his ERS failed and he did not finish, and at the next race in Bahrain, he crashed into Esteban Gutierrez and earned himself a 5 place grid penalty, although he was able to finish the race. Now, I’m not saying him picking the number was the cause of his meme-worthy reputation, but it is an amusing coincidence. He would score just 2 points in 2014 for Lotus


The number 17 is the only number to have ever been retired from use in Formula One. In 2014, Jules Bianchi chose the number after his first three choices of numbers (7, 27 and 77) had been taken. At the Japanese Grand Prix after heavy rain from Typhoon Phanfone, Adrian Sutil’s car aquaplaned at the Dunlop Curve on Lap 43, and then three laps later, Bianchi’s Marussia also went off at the same corner. He struck the tractor servicing Sutil’s stricken car, and was severely injured. He passed away on July 17th. 


The number 22 car in most recent times has been driven by Jenson Button for his two years at Mclaren Honda, and his singular race in 2017 at Monaco when replacing Fernando Alonso. The Brit chose the number as his championship-winning Brawn had sported the same number. Other drivers to use the number prior to 2014 included Lewis Hamilton in his 2008 title-winning Mclaren, Daniel Ricciardo in his maiden season, and Takuma Sato. In 2021, the number will be taken by rookie Yuki Tsunoda, in respect of Sato and Button, and because his favoured number 11 is already in use.


-- Archived from 01/03/2021 --



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