Poll: Should drivers keep their numbers?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nigel Mansell, Williams-Honda, 1987, 470150

27. 46. 5. Some numbers are instantly recognisable to motor racing fans being linked with one driver – whether it’s Gilles Villeneuve, Valentino Rossi, Nigel Mansell, or someone else.

At present F1 drivers either get the number 1 if they won the world champioship, or else have to take a number based on their team’s position in the world championship. But should they get to keep a number if they choose? Cast your vote below:

Should drivers get to keep their numbers?

  • Yes (66%)
  • No (34%)

Total Voters: 346

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By the way, the highest number ever used by a driver in an F1 race is 136 and only two drivers have used the number 13 – see here for more:

F1 Fanatic Polls Archive

18 comments on “Poll: Should drivers keep their numbers?”

  1. I wonder… will drivers keep their number forever or for the duration of their time in F1. In the former scenario, in thirty years time, driver numbers would be pretty high!

    I’m all for the latter, though. It makes sense for a sportsman to be linked to their number, like footballers, Admittedly, F1 cars are more recognisable than a field full of similarly-coloured shirts, but a common identity with a number could help newbies spot their driver. The orange flash that identifies which driver is which within a team isn’t always easy to spot.

  2. hard to say. while it is cool knowing that 46 is always the Doctor I kind of like seeing the defending champion racing with no. 1 on his car …

  3. I’d like to see the old F1 numbering system back. Where Tyrrell were 3+4, Williams 5+6, Jordan 14+15 and so on. Even the reincarnations of Tyrrell (Honda) and Jordan (Force India) could have those numbers.

  4. id like to see the numbers as team numbers, abit like nascar

    and the champion gets the no.1

    or u got the motoGP style, which works, numbers dont seem to make a big deal, so anything works

  5. The champion should get the option of running number 1. Otherwise drivers should get a choice at the start of the season to keep their existing number.
    That way they can keep a number if they want.
    New entries get to pick from what is left.

  6. I agree with Chalky. Although I think numbers are so small on the car now you can hardly see it so who cares? Maybe merchandise but I guess having the number changing often is a good way to make the fans buy the more up to date merch.

  7. Rick DeNatale
    26th June 2008, 12:07

    As I remember it as an F1 fan from the 1970s, it was the teams rather than the drivers who kept their numbers.

    The champion (always?) got number 1 for the next year, and his team mate got number 2. The teams seemed to have fixed numbers when they didn’t have last years champion driving.

    The Ferraris were always either 1 and 2, or 11 and 12 for example.

    Another difference in those days was that the numbers were prominent enough that you could actually SEE them. These days I find that I need to rely on first identifying the team, then the driver using either helmet color or the color of the on-board camera.

  8. I’m not for drivers keeping their numbers, but for teams keeping their numbers. Like with Ferrari’s 27 and 28 and Tyrell’s 3 and 4.

    But the importance of numbers has gone down since (arguably excluding the Hondas) you can’t see the numbers very easily, the driver’s helmet is more prominent.

  9. Having some experience in this area I found retaining ones number a major benefit. I did NOT choose #38, it was assigned to me at the USGP in 1973. At a club race at Mosport Ontario in 1974 we were assigned the same numbers used at the Glen and someone said let’s keep them! The benefits are simple, first of all you KNOW your number prior to an event, there’s no last minute painting numbers or stick-ons for the car, it doesn’t matter which car you’ve entered, when scanning entry lists or time charts you always KNOW your number, your data is easier to find, and frankly if you have fans they find you a lot quicker, there’s some moral support in that. I used #38 from 1973 to 1999. When I retired from racing the number went back into the pool for reassignment. In many fields numbers are assigned to ‘teams’ and drivers often get known by ‘their number’ because they stay with a team a long time, I.E. NASCAR.
    F1 unfortunately is played like musical chairs, some drivers never lasting a full season. Until this flaw changes maybe ‘assigned’ numbers are not such a good idea!

  10. I’m with M Smith’s clarification, there should be team numbers. I was shocked when I started watching F1 and found out that every team changed numbers every year, or at least it was possible every team would. I don’t think it matters on the cars themselves, but it seems like they are missing a marketing opportunity. I do like the champion having the option to run the #1 car though (in that regard I do think it should follow the driver and not the team – a few years back there was the silly situation in the IRL where Dan Wheldon had won the championship for Andretti Green Racing then switched to Ganassi for the next year. Wheldon wanted to take the #1 with him to Ganassi but he wasn’t allowed to do so and Michael Andretti ended up driving the #1 car in the Indianapolis 500 despite never having won a championship. Like I said, silly)

  11. I agree with M. Smith. Teams should keep their numbers, as long as they don’t have the reigning world champion. But drivers keeping their numbers would be better than today’s system.

  12. Max must love the current numbering system, every time Ron Dennis and Hamilton see the front of their car they are reminded of the massive and completely unfair penalty they received.

    Why does Mclaren have #23 and #24 if there were only 22 cars in the field? Did they assume Prodrive would be racing and thus take #21 and #22?

  13. @Dan M, McLaren drive the 22 and 23 cars, which are the appropriate numbers for the 11th team on the grid taking into account that currently no one is issues the number 13 (So team #6 gets 11/12, team #7 gets 14/15)

  14. Interesting, I never thought of that.

  15. You can hardly see the numbers on the cars anyway, they might as well run without them.

  16. dangerous bryan
    27th June 2008, 14:14

    Numbers don’t mean anything to me at all, it’s hard to work out who “is under investigation” when they caption comes up on the TV. The helmet designs are my way of knowing who is in what car (ok, that’s getting harder with the higher cockpit side). As said you can hardly see them anyway. Team keeping numbers might be a good idea as it would help with the “under investigation” captions

  17. I vote indifference but hope that they’ll avoid having a “3” and “03” and “-3” in the same race, and I like the practice they have in MotoGP.

    In fact, I say, combine both methods: You can have a permanent number higher than 25 or you can have last year’s points rank.

  18. the highest number was actually 237 I think

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