More than just a number: F1 driver numbers explained!

Deepti Narwani Deepti Narwani

Deepti Narwani investigates the logic, or lack of it, behind Formula 1 drivers’ numbers.

Why does Lewis Hamilton have #44 on his car? Why does Fernando Alonso go with #14? Why do any of the drivers pick their numbers?

Since the 2014 season, F1 drivers have been allowed to choose a number between 2 – 99 to race under for the duration of their F1 careers.

Unsurprisingly, most drivers chose the numbers for a specific reason so let’s take a look at some of them.

Lewis Hamilton – Mercedes
Number: 44

Hamilton has a deep connection with #44, the Briton carried the number as he rose through the karting ranks and again when he won his first British championship.

As reigning world champion, Hamilton has the option to use #1 but decided against it.

“The 1 itself, Vettel’s had it, Schumacher’s had it, all of the champions have had it, but no one’s had #44,” Hamilton explained.

Valterri Bottas – Mercedes
Number: 77

Bottas decided on #77 to maximise marketing opportunities with “BO77AS”.

Sebastian Vettel – Ferrari
Number: 5

Vettel has fond memories of #5, it was the number he won his first F1 title with and it was his 2001 karting number as well.

Kimi Räikkönen- Ferrari
Number: 7

Not one to reminisce, Räikkönen opted for #7 as it was the number he already had in 2013 when the rule was implemented and he saw no reason to change it.

Daniel Ricciardo – Red Bull
Number: 3

Ricciardo opted for #3 because it was his first karting number and it was also used by his childhood hero, Dale Earnhardt.

Max Verstappen – Red Bull
Number: 33

Since his favourite #3 was already taken up by his team mate, Verstappen settled for #33 and jokingly stated that it might even bring him double the luck.

Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting… #unleashthelion

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Sergio Perez – Force India
Number: 11

Perez has used #11 since he was a kid because he identifies himself with the number. In fact, even his email has #11 in it.

Esteban Ocon – Force India
Number: 31

The Frenchman had #31 on his kart when he won his first national title, the 2007 French Minime Championship.

Lance Stroll – Williams
Number: 18

On his way to F1, Stroll used #18 many times and often had success with the number. Stroll also made his F1 debut at the age of 18.

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Sergey Sirotkin – Williams
Number: 35

Although he has yet to explain his choice, 2018 rookie Sergey Sirotkin will be racing with #35.

Nico Hülkenberg – Renault
Number: 27

27 is Hülkenberg’s birthday dates added together: 19 and 8.

Carlos Sainz – Renault
Number: 55

Sainz chose #55 so he could incorporate it into his name Carlo55ainz.

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Brendon Hartley – Torro Rosso
Number: 28

Not only did Hartley begin racing with #28, it was also the number his father used during his racing career.

Pierre Gasly- Torro Rosso
Number: 10

Gasly sported #10 during his 2013 winning campaign in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.

Romain Grosjean – Haas
Number: 8

“Simply I like this number, plus it has some signification to me. My wife was born the 8th of December, we started dating in 2008 and besides, to my eyes my son is the 8th wonder of the world. That’s why I picked up #8,” Grosjean elaborated.

Kevin Magnussen – Haas
Number: 20

#20 has proved to be lucky for the Dane, Magnussen had #20 when he won in karting and again when he won the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 championship. It was also the number his father used when he raced in F1.

Fernando Alonso – McLaren
Number: 14

The two-time world champion considers #14 to be his lucky number. Dating back to 14th July 1996 when, Alonso at the age of 14, won the Spanish junior karting world championship in a kart that had #14 on it.

Stoffel Vandoorne – McLaren
Number: 2

Vandoorne began his successful single seater racing career in Formula 4 Eurocup 1.6 back in 2010 with #2.

#SV2 ✌️

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Marcus Ericsson – Sauber
Number: 9

“I just like that number,” Ericson stated.

Charles Leclerc – Sauber
Number: 7

It was a case of next best for 2018 rookie, Charles Leclerc.

“I wanted number 7 first, but Kimi had it. Then I chose 10, but Pierre came to F1 and chose number 10, so then I chose number 16. It’s my date of birth and I could not find anything better. And 1 + 6 = 7, which is my favourite number,” Leclerc revealed.