Your questions: F1 and the number 13

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No 13Al wrote in to ask this:

Has there ever been a number 13 on a car [in F1] and if so who was it?

When the FIA published the 2008 entry list last week Toyota had numbers 11 and 12 then Scuderia Toro Rosso had numbers 14 and 15. There will be no number 13 – there hasn’t been for many years. But that hasn’t always been the case.

A car numbered 13 has only appeared once in a Grand Prix. Moises Solana qualified 11th for his first race – at home in Mexico City – in 1963 in a BRM numbered 13. He was a classified finisher in 11th despite his engine having failed eight laps short of the chequered flag.

Solana went on to compete in another seven Grand Prix but never with the number 13 again.

The only other occasion a car numbered 13 appeared in an F1 race weekend was in 1976 when Divina Galica attempted to qualify for her first Grand Prix (also her home race, at Brands Hatch) in Surtees-Ford number 13. She failed to make the race, as she did on her other two attempts to enter races in 1978.

And that is the very brief complete history of drivers who have raced (or nearly raced) in F1 with the number 13.

I’ve always felt superstitions like this are complete and utter nonsense. It irritates me that the sport’s governing body assumes everyone to be triskaidekaphobics (afraid of the number 13) and I’d like to see a driver stick two fingers up to the hocus-pocus and demand the number 13 on their car.

Seeing as Sebastien Bourdais will be making his Grand Prix debut at Melbourne in two month’s time it would be fitting if he did it.

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24 comments on Your questions: F1 and the number 13

  1. michael counsell said on 26th June 2008, 14:19

    In Italy 17 is unlucky but that number is most likely still used by Italian teams.

  2. Macademianut said on 26th June 2008, 23:49

    This year, Number “22″ and “23″ are unlucky from FIA stand-point. ;)

    • Matty said on 19th January 2009, 7:52

      Talking of Moises Solana (the first man to carry ’13′ in a grand prix), his mechanic in that race (the 1966 Mexican GP) was an 18-year-old English lad named Ronald Dennis who was working in his first ever grand prix. He’s done okay these past 43 years, though, so ’13′ wasn’t exactly unlucky for Ron, was it?!

      • Non motoring fans could argue that it turned out unlucky – he got stuck playing around with racing cars instead of getting a decent job producing something useful;-)

        I’m not exactly superstitious, but I know from risk analysis, among other subjects within weapons systems and explosives, that the risk lies within the details. If You don’t follow secure procedures, and if You perform sloppy work, preparations etc. then the risk of accidents increase by factors. If You prepare something badly, the risk for it to go wrong increases a lot, whatever the activity. In historic times this fact has not been correctly understood, but sort of translated into superstition or religion, i.e. it is Gods will or “It wasn’t my fault, (an attempt to “wash hands” or project guilt to someone or something else) it was because the black cat ran across the road in front of me the other day!”
        That being said it is usually a bad idea to walk under a ladder, due to the risk of something being dropped by the person working on the ladder. It is usually a bad idea to open an umbrella inside, due to the increased risk of hitting something or someone, when manoeuvring the thing out the door. So some of the superstition can be translated into modern causal risk analysis, but I don’t see a way to “translate” the number 13…

  3. eurotramp said on 8th September 2010, 8:29

    Thanks for that, i actually found an interesting article on the “13 thing” at Joe Saward’s Grand Prix Blog too. It contains a chilling tale too in one of the entries all linked to that number. check it out

  4. Pammi said on 29th January 2011, 16:00

    Palle, there’s be one way to test that. Pick another sport which does use number 13 regularly and analyse the proportion of mishaps which are associated with the number 13 compared to the other numbers in regular use.

    I wouldn’t entirely be surprised to see an increase. I am not superstitious myself, but mishaps could be induced simply because of all the people *are* supertious. Sort of like a negative vibe, if you get my drift.

    Basically, it’s people that cause errors, not numbers.

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