The Formula 1 World Championship introduced the concept of race numbers in 2014 to help fans identify drivers when they are out on the track.
In previous years, the starting race numbers were dished out to drivers based on the final standings in the previous year’s World Championship.
Now, race numbers are accepted as part of the fabric of Formula 1 — but only the reigning world champion is allowed to change his number, with the No.1 on offer.
The Sporting News explains a little about race numbers here, and how Max Verstappen came about his number…
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What are Formula 1 driver race car numbers?
Race numbers are simply the number attached to each driver to individualise them from the rest of the grid. You’ll find each driver’s number on the front of their car.
All drivers can chose any (available) number between 1 and 99.
Why does Max Verstappen have No.1?
Before he was crowned world champion for the first time in 2021, Verstappen used the No.33. He explained way back in 2014 that his lucky number as a child had always been 3, but Daniel Riccardo had that locked at the time.
“Since I was a young kid I was racing around with this number,” Verstappen tweeted in December 2014. “So I thought it is nice to keep that in F1 aswell! #33”.
Straight after his dramatic victory in the 2021 Abu Dhabi grand prix to seal a first world title — narrowly pipping Lewis Hamilton — Verstappen announced that he would take up the honour of racing with the No.1. And that will continue into the 2023 season after the Dutchman defended his title in 2022.
Taking the No.1 after winning the world title isn’t something every world champion has done. Sebastian Vettel used it way back in 2014, but Hamilton chose to stick with his usual No.44.
“How often do you get the chance to drive with starting number 1 in your Formula 1 career? You never know,” Verstappen said.
“I can always go back to number 33 if I am no longer world champion. But as long as I am world champion, I will use number 1 every single year.”
Since I was a young kid I was racing around with this number.So I thought it is nice to keep that in F1 aswell! #33 pic.twitter.com/flGS253ohV
— Max Verstappen (@Max33Verstappen) December 12, 2014
Full list of F1 race numbers 2023
|Max Verstappen||Red Bull||1|
|Sergio Perez||Red Bull||11|
|Fernando Alonso||Aston Martin||14|
|Lance Stroll||Aston Martin||18|
|Nyck de Vries||AlphaTauri||21|
|Zhou Guanyu||Alfa Romeo||24|
|Valtteri Bottas||Alfa Romeo||77|