We explain who is entitled to which numbers and how the new system will work

Black and white numbers background

The number allocation for Formula 1 is reportedly underway, earlier this week the FIA  contacted current Formula 1 drivers to select their preferred numbers which will remain with them throughout their career and will be prominently displayed on the front of their cars.

As per the 2014 sporting regulations Article 21.2: “Each car will carry the race number of its driver as published by the FIA at the beginning of the F1 season. This number must be clearly visible from the front of the car and on the driver’s crash helmet.”

“Prior to the start of the 2014 World Championship season race numbers will be permanently allocated to drivers by ballot, such numbers must then be used by that driver during every F1 World Championship Event he takes part in throughout his career.”

“Any new drivers, either at the start of or during a season, will also be allocated a permanent number in the same way.”

“The only exception to this allocation process will be for the reigning World Champion who will have the option to use the number one. The number that was previously allocated to him will be reserved for him in subsequent seasons if he does not retain the title of World Champion.”

F1 Testing in Valencia - Day One

Although the rules suggest a random ballot, the FIA has clarified that the number selection process will be done as originally proposed, with drivers getting to choose in the order in which they finished in the 2013 Championship.

Thus Sebastian Vettel will get to choose his preferred number first. He will also have the luxury of choosing to run with the number one plate, until he loses the Championship whereupon he will revert to his bespoke number.

The deadline set by FIA requires drivers to submit their number choices before Christmas, and already drivers are showing interest with newly signed Force India driver Sergio Perez targeting number 11, and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne shortlisting the iconic number 27 along with 25 and 21 – number 27  – forever linked with F1 legends Gilles Villeneuve and Ayrton Senna.

Felipe Massa is keen on number 19 while Valterri Bottas wrote on Twitter: “So been thinking about racing number for my F1 career. I heard BO77AS already, any other ideas?!”

F1 drivers and fans alike have embraced the concept, which has been common practice in MotoGP and NASCAR for decades. (GP247)

Subbed by AJN.

  • rxracer

    I’m not a big fan of retiring numbers, unless it was used by someone particularly special. And the governing bodies generally seem to agree as very few numbers are retired in MotoGP. There are unfortunately lapses of judgement though. Retiring Loris Capirossi’s 65 for instance was ridiculous. It was almost like a reward for hanging around lwaaaaay past his due by date (oh, and getting a cushy FIM adviser job). Having said that, Senna was one of the very special (arguably the most). His number should absolutely be retired.

  • Ninjamonk

    I predict that Button will go for 22 his championship car number.

  • captain tortuga

    80ttas… Bo77as .. Bott45 B07tas … and some others belong to the possibilities Valteri! ;)

  • Stevie Speed

    How about SH17E for Chilton…?!

  • Dissapointed F1 fan

    In Nascar its the car which has the allocated number not the driver. However as drivers do not switch switch teams on a regular basis some drivers do get associated with a particular number eg; Jeff Gordon 24 and Jimmie Johnson 48. Glad to hear that F1 is going down the permanent number route, now they need to finish the job and stop drivers switching helmet designs.

  • Taskmaster

    I don’t get people having a problem with helmet designs changing. As an artist, it’s been fun seeing what they come up with. I also have no idea why anyone cares what number a driver uses, assigned or otherwise. Anyone have an explanation as to why any of this is a real issue?

  • Hawk

    Why would it be a problem if the helmet design changes? I would not fail to identify the driver.

  • McLarenfan

    I think Crashtor will go with the crash test dummy symbol on helmet and car he is that good he has no requirements for a number.

  • Nemo Nobody

    I think everybody agrees that Alonso should take on number 1. To remind him of the good old times :)

  • StevetheGreat

    Glad to see F1 has it’s priorities in order. Pathetic.

  • AFA

    Maybe Maldonado should not use a number and use the “L” sign mainly for the safety and wellbeing of the other drivers!

  • Red Bull Cheats

    Massa wanted #2 but Webber took it with him to Porsche…

  • David

    F1 has more pressing problems than what number to squeeze in amongst all the sponsors’ logos.

  • Taskmaster

    I’m surprised there isn’t yet a pool to see who can guess which drivers will use what numbers. With so many being very superstitious about such things, it would seem the number will have meaning to them. For example, I’d venture that Vettel picks something like 3, 4 or 7, all good numbers in Germany, perhaps 19 and 27 – also considered lucky. 13 is an obvious miss outside Italy or China, and 88 is out for Germans due to uncomfortable cultural associations. Then we have the number 11, a master number in numerology, considered lucky, and one that someone with 4X years as #1 might fancy (my guess for Vettel if I had to put money on one)…. Then there are wildcard numbers, where someone picks a number based on a personal association that has not general recognition as anything lucky or otherwise.

  • gilgen

    I wonder if Hamilton will choose 45 or 54, seeing that is where he seems to be stuck in WDC for the last number of years.

  • Max Smoot

    Forget the numbers — go back to the red and yellow cameras — we’ll know who’s who. Completely trivial exercise.

  • Mike

    Can anyone choose zero, or 007 ?

    I’ll be no-one will pick #2 because they’d never hear the end of “so you’re the #2 driver” jibes.

  • Matt Smith

    Copied from another forum but worth sharing imo – Maldonado should take no 69 as then everyone will still know its him when hes upside down…

  • Adall

    Number 0 should be allowed as I remember Damon Hill carried the number ‘0’ when he drove for Williams.

    I’d like to see Lewis take Red 5 after Nigel Mansell

  • Nic Lancaster

    No. 27 – predominantly a Ferrari number from history should be the natural choice for Fernando Alonso. Hopefully, Vettel doesn’t choose this as it would be wrong. It must go to Ferrari, and Fernando is the obvious choice. Raikkonen should therefore get 28 – the other Ferrari number.
    Otherwise, 11 and 12 should go to Lotus with Grosjean in 11 – a wonderful reminder of Elio De Angelis.
    Williams should take 5 and 6.