The numbers on Formula 1 cars and their meaning

With the victory of the Dutchman Max Verstappen in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, a car with the number one won again in Formula 1 after just over eight years and again it was a Red Bullsince the last precedent was the victory of the German Sebastian Vettel in Brazil on November 24, 2013, when he was competing for the Austrian company.

Later, the 2014 rule change included giving the protagonists more freedom to choose the number to run throughout their career in the top flight, as long as it is between 0 and 99.

1 was reserved for whoever prevailed in the drivers’ championship and the German kept it in that first campaign, but he did not win and then the British Lewis Hamilton chose to keep 44 after each of his six titles with Mercedes, while the german Nico Rossberg, monarch in 2016, he retired after his conquest, so that digit did not appear on the grid.

However, after winning the title in November, the Austrian squad and the Dutch midfielder himself decided to return the 1 to the top-flight tracks, a number that never left Red Bull, despite the dominance of the midfielders. from Mercedes.

“How many times do you have the opportunity to change? The one is the best, so it was clear to me that he would choose it and I hope the 33 doesn’t come back next season,” Verstappen noted, referring to the number he had used since his Grand Circus debut.

The rules in this matter in F1 have evolved in the same way as those of the cars. At first they were assigned by the organizers of the races, in no particular order, so even in consecutive events, the same car could have a different digit; this also caused that, for example, in the 1952 German Grand Prix, all the cars started from 101 of the ferrari from Italian Alberto Ascari, up to 136 of the local BMW-Greifzu Rudolf Krause.

Until in 1974 the serial assigned consecutive numbers to the teams, based on the previous year’s classification and those were kept for a long time, with the exception of who was champion, who could take 1 and his partner 2, so those who lost that honor inherited the figures left by the new monarchs.

Despite this, there were cases like that of the Italian Lella Lombardiwho wore the 208 at the 1974 British Grand Prix, as one of his sponsors was a Luxembourg radio station broadcasting on that FM frequency.

However, in 1996 this was changed again and again the champion and his teammate used 1 and 2, but from then on, the teams took the figures based on their classification in the previous constructors’ championship; that was the norm until, in 2014, it was decided that drivers could choose their number.

That selection will accompany them throughout their career in F1 and they will keep it even two years after their departure from the series; that is, until the beginning of 2024 no one can apply for the 7 of the Finn Kimi Räikkönen, who retired after the 2021 campaign. The only one retired is the 17 from french jules bianchiwho passed away after the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.

This new rule has allowed, for example, Hamilton to have preferred the 44, which he had in his first kart competition at the age of eight and which was the same one that had the license plate of his father’s car; The British did not want to change to 1 after his championships because, according to his words, keeping the same digit from his childhood gave him the feeling that everything was starting over with a new calendar.

Each member of the current grid has their own reasons for opting for that figure in their car, the also British George Russell, Hamilton’s partner in Mercedes uses the 63 because his brother competed in a closed karting place and the fastest one was awarded that number, so he followed that tradition.

Canadian Nicholas Latifi of Williams selected the 6 being linked to his country and especially to Toronto because the telephone codes of that city start or end like this, also that place is named that way in a song by his compatriot Drake.

Others pay tribute to their idols, Australian Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) wears the 3 in honor of former American pilot Dale Earnhardthis partner the British Lando Norris chose the 4 because the italian motorcyclist valentino rossi sported 46, while the Thai Alex Alban I take the 23for being precisely half the number of the multiple MotoGP champion.

There is also space for other sports, the Mexican Sergio Pérez has taken the eleven by the number of the Chilean striker Ivan Zamorano during his time at América in the Mexican soccer league, while the Chinese newcomer from Alfa RomeoGuanyu Zhou debuts the 24in honor of the NBA legend, Kobe Bryant.

Others link him to his successes from a younger age: the Spaniard Fernando Alonso de Alpine gives meaning to your 14 because when he was 14 years old, on July 14 he won the Junior Kart World Championship with car number 14, while the German Sebastian Vettel (Aston-Martin) began to shine with a single-seater with the 5 and his partner, the Canadian Lance Stroll was crowned with the 18 in Italian Formula 4.

Some had to be creative because their first option was already taken, the German Mick Schumacher (Haas) has 47 because 4 is his favorite and 7 is the number of titles his father Michael won in F1, so it can be translated as “by him”; the Spanish Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) wanted the 5, but he chose for the 55 which is also similar to the combination of the last letter of his name and the first of his last name.

His partner at Ferrari, the Monegasque Charles Leclerc wanted the 7, but it belongs to Räikkönen, so he preferred the 16 because when adding them they give that figure; the Finn Valtteri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) also wanted it and chose to have it twice, with the 77while the Japanese Yuki Tsunoda was looking for the elevenbut being from Czechmultiplied it by two: 22, that his compatriot also used takuma sato in 2006 and 2007, when they were still assigned.

Due to these previous rules, it is not surprising that the number that has won the most titles in the top category is the 1 that Verstappen does not want to let go of now, he has done so on 15 occasions, followed by 5, with 10 crowns (the last with Vettel in 2010) and then with six there are 6 (the most recent with Rosberg), 2 (three times with Frenchman Alain Prost) and 44 (all from Hamilton).

As for wins, number 1 is the one with the most, reaching 182 with what Max did in Saudi Arabia, followed by number 5 with 144, then number 2 with 83 and number 44 with 82 (the Frenchman Maurice Trintignant won once in 1955 and the rest are from Hamilton) and completes the top five on 6th, with 75.

All these statistics are on the side of Verstappen and Red Bull, who after having regained the 1 after eight years, do not want to give it up after only one season and instead seek to expand the single-digit legend with a magical meaning, beyond motorsport. ; For now, that number has won again in F1.

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