Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013

Drivers to pick ‘career numbers’ next year

2014 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Formula One drivers will select race numbers which they will retain for the rest of their careers from next season.

Drivers will be given the choice of numbers between 2 and 99 from next year.

The number one will remain for special use of the reigning world champion, if they choose to use it. Where two drivers choose the same number, whoever finished highest in the championship will have first preference.

This is the first change to the numbering system for Formula One cars since 1996, when the current system based on the constructors’ championship finishing positions was introduced.

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Image ?? Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 150 comments on “Drivers to pick ‘career numbers’ next year”

    1. Hhmm I wonder what number Vettel will use…

      1. Easy, he will have a career no1.

        1. Vettel will be able to choose number 1 simply bcos he is in the red bull of speed

      2. And Webber should choose 13

        1. Why? He’s not running in F1 next season.

          So if your 13 was a joke, it falls a bit flat as Webber having a ‘career number’ in F1 has no relevance.

          1. dw, freaking smartass…

    2. The question on everybody’s minds is… Who will pick 69?

      1. Honorary number reserved for James Hunt.

        1. Nope it’s Maldonad’s, so that we can read it even when he’s turned upside down.

          1. Fantastic suggestion :)

          2. @magon4 Wouldn’t that be Webber?

          3. COTD, anyone? xD

          4. BRAVO.

          5. We have a winner! XD

          6. yeah ! XD

          7. So very winning.

          8. You Sir, made my day

          9. Hahahahahahaha

          10. Omg, can’t stop laughing at that one!

          11. Or, it could be Grosjean. For the same reason

      2. No, no, no, the most important question is who will pick 42? :)

        1. Mickey Mouse.

        2. You’ll get that answer in 6 million years.

          1. Phew! I was beginning to think no F1 fans read Douglas Adams!

        3. Would be my number, sponsored by Megadodo Publications.

      3. Max Chilton if he is still in and he is holding up all the front runners when they try lapping him

        1. W (@yesyesyesandyesagain)
          9th December 2013, 20:49

          Chilton should get 99

          1. 99 problems but a win ain’t one.

            1. hahahahah +1

            2. A killer! +1 haha

    3. I don’t think this is good idea either, but at least it’s not as bad decision as the double points in the final race.

      1. I actually like it, if you think this will be like motogp, it will be a lot easier to identify the drivers, furthermore, in my point of view if personal sponsors are allowed, numbers will have different colours, and therefore little differences in the livery within the team. So at the moment I like the idea, lets see how it works

        1. Who identifies drivers by unreadable numbers?

          1. Presumably a change in how numbers are displayed on cars will come into effect with this rule. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t

            1. Here in the States, people do identify with the numbers for NASCAR…I see 3, 24, and 88 all over the place, mostly small stickers on the backs of peoples cars. I think that’s Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhart, but I’m not 100% sure, not that into Nascar. I think this is a marketing ploy really. A driver will be identified with a number, and then they can sell stickers and what not to be like NASCAR…Although, the changing numbers don’t really mean anything either, so I don’t really personally care if they change the system.

        2. There’s only 2 drivers per team.
          Most teams have very different livery from other teams.
          Most drivers have very different helmets.
          Who exactly has trouble identifying them?
          More to the point – what good are numbers unless you know which drivers are associated with those numbers anyway?

          All that aside though, not a terrible idea. Certainly not the worst decision they FIA have made of late…

          1. Hi @nick101, lots of people have difficulty identifying things by fine-detail colour patterns. About 8% of white (so called “Caucasian”) males have some degree of colour vision impairment. Personally, I find it very difficult to tell some of the cars apart. Big numbers on them would be great. Dynamic augmented reality overlays would be better (as has been used for many years in some US oval racing TV broadcasts).

      2. I think it’s a good idea. Now I only need to buy a new shirt/hat when my fav. driver changes teams.

        1. That’s what i had in mind

    4. I’m not a huge fan of this, although I still think it’s an improvement of the current system where the numbers potentially change every year. I would’ve preferred to see F1 go back to the pre-1996 system, where the teams kept the same numbers apart from when the championship was won.

      1. @jackysteeg most important part, they have to make them readable, whatever the number. You can easily adjust your memory to new number every year and recognize drivers IF you can see the number on their car (not really the case now)

    5. Unlucky ol’ Mark Webber definitely would have definitely deserved #13.

      1. Give #13 to JEV for mechanical failure or to Hulkenberg for being overlooked by top teams. I see some kind of quarrel for numbers before the season.

      2. No, #2 would have been more appropriate.

        1. @david-a

          No, #2 would have been more appropriate.

          That number should have been reserved for Massa.

          1. #2 is honorary number reserved to Barrichello

          2. #2 is for Webber. Cause it’s never too bad for a #2 driver.

        2. No.

          21 would have been appropriate fro Webber had he stayed, because then he could run it ‘multi’ times, lol.

      3. @thrillerwa09 I would so pick #13. I’d start a racing career now and try to get to F1 just to pick #13. If someone picks it, I’ll be rooting for him the rest of my life.

        1. #13 will be used by FdC for testing and for 2015!

      4. Safety cars #13

    6. Love this idea. This is a good one.

    7. I’ll let them keep this idea so long as:

      a) Drivers aren’t EVER allowed to change
      b) They also have to keep the same helmet design

      1. @tonyyeb yes to a) no to b)

        While I don’t like drivers changing their helmet design over and over again (I’m looking at you Seb!), I’d not inforce them not to change it. Maybe now that they’ll be able to use their number forever, they can add it to their design, like Kimi did in the past 2 years.

        1. I like the idea of some specialty one-off helmet designs. Yes they can become atrocious like HAM’s MJ helmet at the USGP this year, but in general, it’s a good thing.

          1. Alonso’s Indian GP helmet :)

    8. Of course, no word on what happens when a driver is out of F1, if someone returns wanting to use an active number (highest in the last driver standings? Does this mean Raikkonen could have 7 in 2013 and Ricciardo could have it in 2014 still?) or what happens with copyright, numbers on cars or entry lists.

      Great stuff. I’m glad the season is over, I’m actually annoyed enough to boycott the next race, but I’ll probably give F1 2014 a chance.

      1. A returning driver with have zero points. In football terms, he wont even have a goal difference. How ever you rank drivers, a returning driver will be behind a current driver. There for current driver keeps the car number.

        1. So when legends like Kimi or Schumacher make comebacks they won’t get their historic numbers back if some other s?

          That seems like something you’d want to fix.

    9. I hope Ferrari choose 27 and 28 again.

      1. What an absolute delusion it will be if they don’t

        1. Could you help enlighten me on the reason behind it please? I am not aware of their history as much as I would like to.

          1. I believe they always had those numbers before, like when Gilles Villeneuve was driving for them.

          2. @evered7
            The numbers 27 & 28 has been Ferrari’s numbers from 1981 to 1995 except in 1990 when Alain Prost the reigning world champion used the n°1 and Nigel Mansel used n°2, well in fact Ferrari didn’t have much choice to change it during these years because they didn’t won the championship since 1983, the number 27 has been carried by Patrick Tombay, Michele Alboreto, Nigel Mansell ,Jean Alesi(an F1 legend for the tifosi) but the driver who has been associated the most with the number 27 is Ferrari’s most popular driver Gilles Villeneuve who carried it until his final days in F1
            Another thing is that when Ferrari used the number 1 & number 2 in 1990 the n° 27 was used by another legend of the sport who was also very popular for the tifosi : Ayrton Senna who won the WDC that year

      2. @Tim-m – The drivers will choose the numbers, not the teams.

        1. Ahh, too bad then.

      3. FlyingLobster27
        9th December 2013, 20:47

        Only it isn’t Ferrari who choose the numbers, it’s the drivers, and the spirit is that they keep those numbers “for life”. If Ferrari want to keep 27 and 28, they’d have to employ rookies forever more once Kimi and Fernando are gone. An IndyCar or NASCAR system, in which the teams book the numbers, would have allowed what you’d like.

      4. They won’t though. Imagine Alonso picks #27; that would mean they would lose the number (for ever?) after next season, probably. Better keep that for a long term prospect. They probably can too – I don’t think any of the current drivers would have the balls to just grab 27.

      5. Alonso will probably choose 14 as his personal number.
        The numbers belongs to the driver for their entire F1 career so, little probability to see Ferrari with the 27 & 28 numbers on their cars.

    10. Brilliant decision, I’ve been saying they should do this for years.

      It’s rare these days drivers are allowed to express themselves. Hopefully we’ll see numbers become synonymous with drivers again, adding a little more mystique, like Valentino Rossi’s #46, and some interesting and fun visual designs associated with them. Plus it’ll make the drivers easier to recognise and differentiate between.

      I wonder if Fernando or Kimi will choose #27… I’d love to see it on a modern Ferrari.

      1. I wonder if Vettel will choose 27 (but keep using 1) just to wind them up…

        It would come in handy if he ever decides to go to Ferrari, of course.

    11. Don’t particularly like this either but compared to the farce regarding double points this seems completely sane and uncontroversial.

    12. Wonderfull news, never really cared about this before but it works fine in motorcycle racing so why shouldn’t it work in F1. I’m more shocked about the dummy rules concerning double points for the last race.

    13. Why people are complaining is beyond me, it gives more to the driver, take Rossi for example, first thing you think of when you think of Rossi is 46 and also the other way around well at least for me I think of Rossi when I hear 46. Good move unlike double points for the last race which is just ridiculous

      1. I don’t get it either. As near as I can tell, the biggest problem people have is that drivers like Adrian Sutil might not be able to keep their favourite numbers if they leave the sport and then return.

        There are 22 drivers and 98 numbers available. I doubt Sutil is losing sleep over which number he picks.

      2. I like motoGP and have watched “the Doctor” since his 125 days but the only number in MotoGP I remember belongs to the Kentucky Kid.

        1. @HoHum – It’s one of the more evocative (and provocative) numbers.

    14. Vettel will have monopoly on 1, who are we kidding

    15. This is another bad decision by the FIA, but it isn’t in the same league as… I can’t bring myself to say it… Double Points. I can see it becoming a mess with some drivers retiring numbers. What if one driver comes back and their number is taken? There are no issues whatsoever with the former system. There was no need to change it, but the FIA seem to like changing things for change’s sake.

      I’m royally hacked off after hearing what the FIA have done today.

      1. @deej92 – I would imagine that if a driver left the sport and returned to find their number taken, then that’s tough luck. It begs the question of why they left in the first place; if it’s a driver like Chilton, then it’s not worth getting worked up over. If it’s a driver like Raikkonen and his number is that important to him, then he should not have left in the first place, and it speaks volumes to his character if he makes a fuss over it.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys That’s very true. My main point is just that the old system was so easy and I don’t think a change was necessary. I always thought personal numbers were a bit naff. I liked seeing the lower numbers being rewarded to the teams who earnt it. It’ll just take some time for me to warm to this system.

          1. @deej92 – It might seem like a minor thing to change the number system, but I think it could be exactly what the sport needs. One of the bigger complaints in recent years has been that the drivers lack personality, and so a personalised number gives the drivers the chance to project some of themselves into the car. I suspect most drivers will pick a number that is important to them; like, for example, the number that was on the first go-kart that they raced. That can only be a good thing.

        2. Or if it’s a driver like Hulkenberg, it’s because he has no sponsors behind him.

          @deej92 I completely agree :(

    16. This is a good thing, but frankly, if the numbers on the cars are as small as they currently are, this really makes no difference.

    17. How often is it possible for those actually attending a race to see a number on the side of a car? Not very from my experience.
      There should be a minimum size for them.

      1. @ragwort – The FIA has pushed for that, but there has been no word as to whether it is happening. The teams don’t like it because it means losing space that could go to sponsors.

    18. This has great scope to really annoy someone like Hamilton who might lose out on a Senna number to someone in a better car.

      I wholeheartedly agree, but only if drivers have the option to look at the final list and switch numbers to annoy someone else.

      1. There is only Vettel and Fernando who can take a potential number choice away from him (these are the only two current drivers who finished ahead of him).

    19. I’m not really too pleased about this. As I said in the forum, I’ve never had any trouble identifying drivers, and even if for some reason, I do, then the commentary team or on-screen graphics are quick enough to tell me. There is just no need for this, and there are plenty more significant issues to address than something as trivial as this.

    20. I like this change, it will greatly increase the marketing power and opportunities for F1, the teams, and the driver.

    21. So if Fernando and Kimi become 27 and 28, the numbers will move with them if they move teams…

      Would have preferred the numbers to be allocated to teams, not drivers (NASCAR and Indycar style).

    22. I, for the life of me, can’t see why people have a problem with this. The number thing can become part of a legends story. Rossi will forever be associated with 46 for example. But he changed his helmets to reflect his personality, his sense of humour, his creativity, or what was happening in his life at the time. But 46 always stayed true, I think that this worked in perfect harmony.

    23. Can I assume that last year’s championship order will be the order current drivers pick there numbers in? Constructor order for rookies?
      Also if Vettel chooses 1 will he also pick his “normal” number now or wait until he needs it.
      To make it worthwhile they need to get a large enough number on either side of the car, the nose and possibly the drivers surname on the back of the rear wing beam. As im guessing this is to try and aide recognisability of drivers.

      1. Vettel will probably pick his normal number at the same time as he decides whether to use the number 1 or not. The FIA would need to know what number to put in reserve for him.

    24. Surprised people are so against this. I think it’s a great idea and gives drivers more of an identity. When I think of Nigel Mansell, I think of a red number 5. When I think of Hamilton, there isn’t anything iconic that springs to mind.

      When Hamilton moved from McLaren to Mercedes, there was nothing of Hamilton on the car. If his number moved with him, there would be something that marked him apart.

      The FIA need to take this further IMO and stipulate that the numbers have to be a minimum size. They need to be visible on the cars.

    25. I Hope Hamilton or Button pick 22.

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        9th December 2013, 23:01

        @harvs Hamilton has the priority here (chooses the one with most points). He would try to repeat “the history of the number” when he went from 22 to 1 in 2008.

        1. Maybe they will chose #22 or #12..

          #22 – champions number;
          #12 – a “Senna” number for Hamilton;
          #12 – 1st victory number for Button

    26. I can’t really give a flying fig one way or the other about the virtually invisible numbers but this is just another example of FIA/FOM looking to copy something from other series as a quick fix but as usual they ignore the real reason for the other series popularity – good wheel to wheel racing.

      With the help of PDVSA Maldonado will buy a better number than he deserves, assuming Lotus can maintain their current form.

      1. @hohum – Read the article again. It clearly says that drivers will choose their numbers in WDC order, not WCC. And you are also assuming that Maldonado would want a number that another driver would want.

        You claim that this is a specious move by the FIA, but to be perfectly honest, that argument that you made is just as specious.

        1. @prisoner-monkeys, you are assuming that Maldonado wouldn’t score any more points driving a Lotus than he would a Caterham, which is where he could expect to be if he did not have PDVSA backing, read my comment again.

          1. No, @prisoner-monkeys is right. Maldonado picks his number NOW for next year so he is 18th on the list. It doesn’t matter how much money he gets next year. He is third to bottom this year, and thats what counts for number choice.

    27. Well good idea…. for marketing. As I Ferrari fan I would like a cap with the permanent number of Kimi or Alonso.

    28. This is OK, especially compared to other proposed changes. I like this idea, kind of a throwback.

    29. It’s a silly change but who cares anyway, it doesn’t make any real difference.

      The sad thing is that purists will think “oh wow a romantic throwback to when Ferrari had 27/28 and Villeneuve and curly driver writing and red 5 and everything…” Realists meanwhile will know that drivers won’t give a hoot, Alonso will take 3. Why? Because Santander’s new 3-2-1 account lets you blah, blah…

      1. @joshgeake – I think that’s a bit cynical. I see no reason why drivers would pick numbers related to their sponsors before any other.

    30. I think this is a brilliant idea from the FIA. At least you know what number each driver will take because of the number

    31. I hope Vettel chooses 1 ^^

    32. Are these numbers going to be shown on the side of the cars where you can actually see them? The sides of the rear-wing for example?

      Would be useful for drivers that change their helmet designs, or for teams where both drivers have yellow helmets!

    33. Michael Brown (@)
      9th December 2013, 21:41

      Personally I liked he idea of the current numbering system, but I don’t think it will take long for me to get used to this one.

      What would be really awful is if drivers would only have one helmet design for their career. I know people hate that Vettel does it, but special and one-off helmet designs shouldn’t be discouraged.

    34. I’ve always liked the moto gp numbering idea so I’m happy with this, even if it is essentially a marketing ploy… it’s good to give a driver more of a ‘signature’ though (especially with the helmet roulette of recent years).

    35. I like the existing system, it’s kind of neat to see a team get a set of lower numbers after a good season. Slightly sad to see it go.

      It’s not a huge deal though, and the new one will work. In particular, it’ll make those messages from race control easier to understand.

    36. I kinda like it. Wondering if they will be able to retire a drivers number?

    37. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      9th December 2013, 23:02

      I hope those numbers are at leat visible, not in a hidden place behind the sidepods or something. You see the cars in F1 and the number is the smallest thing in the front, and nowhere to be seen on the sides.

    38. but will the numbers be chosen by the team or by the driver??? for example, football player cristiano ronaldo has the number 7 as HIS signature. drivers might like a number they can associate to them as a marketing tool or identification. the teams on the other hand might, like for example ferrari an historic number…

      1. The article makes it pretty clear that the drivers will pick, and that the number will stay with them throughout their career. When they leave a team, they take their number with them.

    39. I liked it, had long there was no change in the numbering system.

      The FIA ​​should focus more on the wim and gain positions too.
      I think if it was given to the winner in addition to 25 points a number of points equal to the starting position would be nice.
      who wins starting in 2nd, 25 +2 = 27, starting at 3, 25 +3 = 28 and so on until the 10th, 25 +10 = 35.
        What do you think?

    40. my main concern is who will get Ricky Bobby’s #26 Shake ‘n’ Bake

    41. My only real issue with this (I’m also a big MotoGP fan and it helps)

      Is that I don’t think the picks should be on last years championship but on either career races (Meaning Jenson then Fernando get to pick first) or career points. Does 1 season mean Grosjean should pick ahead of Button and Massa with hundreds more races under their belts?

      I also thing Damon Hill would be annoyed. Number 0 isn’t available!

    42. Good idea executed wrong. Car numbers shouldn’t be based on position and change as often as they do. That said, i don’t like the idea of ‘career’ numbers as such, i think they should follow the American way and number the cars not the drivers.

    43. I can imagine drivers using numbers associated with championships. Alonso 5, Hamilton 8, Vettel 10. Maybe Button with 22. Maybe birth years although in about a decade that could become a problem with 2000 and 2001. Chilton could have 19

    44. I love the idea of permanent race number but hope Vettel don’t change it every weekend the way he does with his helmet .

      1. @wasif1 he can’t thankfully.

    45. This is the one rule change I really like in a see of others I think are terrible ideas (2 Pit stops per race rule). When I think of Valentino Rossi, I see the blue and white bike with the 46 on the front. When I think of Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR, I think of that 48 on the side. It will be great for me to have the similar associations, but now with the drivers in the sport I follow most closely.

      1. in a “sea” of others, sorry for that mistake

    46. Between 2 and 99, what about 0? It was good enough for Damon Hill…

      1. @geemac That’s the only thing I don’t like about this, now we’re never going to see it again.

        1. @mantresx If I was on the current grid that’d be the number I’d have, not just because it was Hill’s but because it is a bit different. 1 is obviously the champions right but the rest are just numbers.

    47. I’m afraid Seb will take No. 23

    48. Ferrari need to keep 27 and 28 regardless of the driver, I hope Luca has caught on to this as he has the power to veto any decision made by the FIA. Ferrari must always be 27/28 you drive for the team not yourself. All the other teams who cares let the drivers pick them

    49. David not Coulthard (@)
      10th December 2013, 9:54

      What about 0, π, and i?

      1. Haha, exactly! Complex numbers need representation too!

    50. I can see Hamilton & Button both wanting #22 Maybe Lewis will get it and Jenson will stick with red 5..or maybe that was just something ted Kravitz said and Jenson doesn’t even know.

    51. The funny thing is, we will never know what number Vettel will choose, he’ll probably keep using 1 for the rest of his career…

    52. who really gives a stuff about who has what number
      bring back the white circle with the number in the middle and make sure its visable to the fans that actually go to the races
      still think pastor should have 666 mind

    53. What a joke. Thankfully the numbers are presented so small on the cars these days that we wont be able to see them.

    54. I’m not opposed to this, not massively in favour either. Sounds like a attempt to drive merchandising in the future

    55. What is the point of personal numbers and artificial means of keeping the championship alive unless something is very broken?

      Perhaps we should have the ‘Friday draw’ where drivers pick the car they have to drive for the weekend from a hat?

      Why not dress the drivers up as clowns during the driver parade and introduce custard pie’s and buckets of water for a bit of extra entertainment?

      Have the podium ceremony carried out in a ‘Big Top’ , in any case it really is becoming the ‘F1 Circus’.

      Perhaps good, clean, hard, fast racing, where the best driver wins, is a novel concept these days. Rant over.

    56. I’m not against this idea, although it will be pointless if they don’t also make the numbers more prominent on the cars.

      It seems a bit much if a driver misses out on his preferred career number because his team produced a poor car last year. Does that mean he gets to change to it if he does a bit better in the championship the next year and the driver with ‘his’ number does worse? Could get a bit silly.

      As for what numbers drivers will pick: if you look at karting, where drivers sometimes get to choose their race number, birth year is quite popular. I will be very surprised if anyone picks number 2.

    57. I think Lewis will pick 12 or 27

    58. Crashtor Malfunctionado
      12th December 2013, 20:47

      Honestly, Ill be very dissapointed if Ferrari aren’t able to permanently lock down 27 & 28. This is extremely important to the tifosi and the overall heritage of the sport. Overall, this is a very positive move in my eyes. It works brilliantly in motogp, and if F1 could adopt aero regs that make the cars look more simple yet beautiful, like say from 1988 – 1995 style F1 cars, the numbers can be clearly visible from the nose of the car as well. I personally think the low wide shape of cars in that era emphasise a sense of speed, danger, and exoticism that the modern ugly 2009 + spec cars dont. The V12 Ferrari 412T2 from 1995 just looks and sounds like a lethal weapon, and gives off a greater sense of speed and power regardless of the lap time difference from 1995 to 2013. This is something the FIA/FOM have dropped the ball on massively. Aesthetics plays a massive role in ones perception of speed.

      1. The numbers are being assigned to drivers so Ferrari can’t do that. So Alonso could ask for 27 and Raikkonen 28 (or vice-versa) to accomplish what you’re suggesting. But if someone who finished in front of them in the championship wants those numbers (i.e. Vettel and, in Raikkonen’s case, Hamilton and Webber too) then they won’t get them.

        And, of course, if they then moved to another team they would take those numbers with them. McLaren of course used 27 and 28 in 1990 when Alain Prost had the number one on his Ferrari.

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