F1 drivers are more than just skilled racers. They are also personalities, identities, and symbols of their teams and nations. One of the ways they express themselves is through their choice of driver number, which they carry throughout their F1 career.
But what do these numbers mean? How do they reflect the drivers’ stories, ambitions, and values? In this article, we will explore the meaning behind each F1 driver number, and how they relate to the drivers’ personal and professional journeys.
Each driver gets to choose their own number (as long as it is not used by another driver.) There are strict rules about the numbers that are available.
The Unused F1 Driver Number
There are three numbers that never get used, for a variety of reasons.
17 – The Forbidden Number
There is one number that no one can choose: 17. This number belongs to Jules Bianchi, a young and talented driver who died in 2014 after a tragic accident at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Out of respect and honor for his memory, the FIA decided to retire the number 17 from the sport. Since then, no driver has ever used or requested this number.
It is a symbol of loss, grief, and courage in the F1 community.
13 – The Unlucky Number
There is one number that almost no one wants: 13. Superstitious people consider it to be unlucky and cursed in many cultures and traditions.
It has a dark history in motorsport, as several drivers who used it in the past died in fatal accidents.
The last driver to use it in F1 was Mexican racer Moises Solana in 1963 whose BRM carried the number in his home race in 1963.
Since then, no one has dared to choose it or race with it. It is a number that everyone avoids and fears.
69 – The Naughty Number
No F1 driver in the history of the sport has chosen the number 69.
The reason for this is not clear, but it could be due to the number’s sexual connotation or its association with bad luck in some cultures. Some drivers may also avoid it because it is difficult to read when inverted on the car.
The only driver who ever requested to use the number 69 was Alexander Rossi in 2014, but he did not get a chance to race with it
The 2023 Driver Numbers
Some of the reasons have a nice backstory while others are simply chosen because they are required. Some of the mor interesting reasons for various drivers are listed below.
Max Verstappen – Racing Number 1
Only the F1 Champion can use the number 1. This number is the ultimate symbol of success and glory in the sport. It shows that the driver is the best of the best, the king of the grid.
Max Verstappen earned the right to use this number after winning his first world title in 2021, and again in 2022. He decided to swap his usual number 33, which was his lucky number as a kid for the prestigious number 1.
Even though Lewis Hamilton is a 7 times world champion he never exercised this privilege.
Logan Sargeant – Racing Number 2
Sargeant explains why he chose the number 2.
Lando Norris – Racing Number 4
Although he would have preferred another number (46 being his first choice) the number 4 works with his Twitter handle #L4ndo.
Pierre Gasly – 10 The Zidane Number
Pierre Gasly uses the number 10 on his car, because it has a special meaning for him. He won his first title in 2013 with that number, when he became the Formula Renault European champion.
He is also a huge fan of football and admires footballing star Zinedine Zidane, the legendary French player who wore the number 10 on his shirt. For Gasly, the number 10 represents success and inspiration.
Sergio Perez – Racing Number 11
Sergio Perez has more than one reason for picking the number 11
Perez uses the number 11 on his car, which has a special meaning for him. He is a big fan of football and admires Ivan Zamorano, a former player who wore the number 11 for Perez’s favorite team, Club America.
Sergio also won his first karting race with that number. He even has the number 11 in his email address.
For Perez, the number 11 represents passion and luck.
Fernando Alonso – F1 Driver Number 14
The number 14 is significant to Fernando Alonso. When he was 14, on the 14th of July, his go kart number was 14, he became world champion.
Charles Leclerc – F1 Driver Number 16
Leclerc originally wanted to use number seven. When he found that was taken he wanted number 10, but it was also taken. Leclerc revealed.
Charles ended up choosing number 16, because one plus six equals seven. His birthday is the 16th of October.
Lance Stroll – F1 Driver Number 18
Lance Stroll has more than one reason to pick their number.
He uses the number 18 on his car, which has a special meaning for him. Lance won two titles with that number, the Formula 4 and Formula 3 championships, in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
He also made his F1 debut with that number shortly after his 18th birthday in 2017. For Stroll, the number 18 represents history and achievement.
Kevin Magnussen – F1 Driver Number 20
Kevin Magnussen uses the number 20 on his car, which has a special meaning for him.
He won his first and only title with that number, the Formula Renault 3.5 Series championship, in 2013. He also made his F1 debut with that number in 2014, scoring a podium in his first race with McLaren. For Magnussen, the number 20 represents glory and talent.
Nyck de Vries – F1 Driver Number 21
Nyck de Vries. uses the number 21 on his car, which has a special meaning for him. He is the first Dutch driver to win the Formula E championship, which he did with Mercedes in 2020-21.
He also made his F1 debut with that number in 2022, joining AlphaTauri as a rookie. For de Vries, the number 21 represents innovation and ambition.
Yuki Tsunoda – F1 Driver Number 22
Yuki Tsunoda uses the number 22 on his car, which has a special meaning for him. He is a fan of Jenson Button, the former world champion who wore the number 22 when he won the title in 2009.
He originally wanted to use the number 11, which was his number in karting, but it was already taken by Sergio Perez. so he doubled it to become 22!
Alexander Albon – F1 Driver Number 23
Alexander Albon uses the number 23 on his car, which has a special meaning for him. He is a fan of Valentino Rossi, the legendary motorcycle racer who wears the number 46.
He also admires other sports stars who used the number 23, such as basketball legends Michael Jordan** and LeBron James, and football star David Beckham. F
or Albon, the number 23 represents excellence and inspiration.
Guanyu Zhou – F1 Driver Number 24
His other passion was basketball, and he chose the number 24 in memory of Kobe Bryant who, with his daughter, was killed in a helicopter crash.
Nico Hülkenberg – F1 Driver Number 27
Hülkenberg uses the number 27 because it is the month (August – 8) and (19) day of his birthday added together.
Esteban Ocon – F1 Driver Number 31
Ocon chose the number 31 in F1 because it was the number, he won the junior series in.
Lewis Hamilton – F1 Driver Number 44
Arguably the most famous number on the track is 44 used by 7 times world champion Lewis Hamilton.
The number was first used on a home-built go-kart he raced. The number was an extract from the number plate on his dad’s car at that time.
Carlos Sainz – F1 Driver Number 55
When Sainz started in f1 he wanted to use the number 5, however it was not available because Sebastian Vettel used it.
He decided to use to 5’2 together 0hence 55.
George Russell – F1 Driver Number 63
63 was the number George Russel brother raced with after he won the go-kart championship. George took this over when he earned his place on the F1 grid.
Valtteri Bottas – F1 Driver Number 77
Valtteri Bottas uses the number 77 on his car, which has a special meaning for him. He likes the number seven, which he considers to be his lucky number.
However, this number was already taken by his compatriot Kimi Raikkonen – he decided to double it and use 77, which he also thinks looks good on his car. For Bottas, the number 77 represents fortune and style.
Oscar Piastri – F1 Driver Number 81
Piastri recalls the following.