Your questions: pit TVs and car numbers

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

The only good thing about the Honda RA107 was its large numbers
The only good thing about the Honda RA107 was its large numbers

It’s time to tackle another crop of your questions. Today we have queries about drivers who left their teams after winning the world championship, pit TVs, and how to get work at the Abu Dhabu Grand Prix.

Plus, is there really a road named after Jenson Button?

Car numbers

We had some questions about number two drivers last time round – now SonyJunkie wants to know about ones and zeroes:

Is Nigel Mansell the only F1 world champion to have never raced (in F1) with a “1” on his car?

To answer the first question: no. Two other drivers won the championship but never started a race with the coveted number one on their cars, and both are tragic tales.

This first was Mike Hawthorn, who retired from Grand Prix racing after winning the 1958 world championship, and was killed in a road accident in January 1959. The second was Jochen Rindt. Rindt has the sad distinction of being the only driver to win the championship posthumously – he was leading the title race when he was killed at Monza in 1970.

Ther are 22 drivers to have started rounds that counted towards the world championship in cars bearing the number one who never won the world championship. Many of these were American drivers contesting the Indianapolis 500, when it counted towards the title from 1950-1960.

The most recent non-champion to use the number one was John Watson, substituting for the injured reigning champion Niki Lauda in the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. At the first ever world championship race – at which there was of course no reigning championship, the number one car was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. Which, as things turned out, was entirely appropriate.

SonyJunkie also asks:

Are Williams the team with the most world champions to their name that didn’t race for them the next season and so not have the number “1” on a Williams? i.e. 1987 Nelson Piquet went to Lotus, 1992 Nigel Mansell went to CART, 1993 Alain Prost retired, 1996 Damon Hill went to Arrows (well he was sacked by Williams!!) etc…

He’s quite right to single out Williams for the unusual distinction of failing to retain champion drivers. Here’s a list of teams that failed to in recent years:

2007 – Renault (Fernando Alonso joined McLaren)
1997 – Willians (Damon Hill joined Arrows)
1996 – Benetton (Michael Schumacher joined Ferrari)
1994 – Williams (Alain Prost retired)
1993 – Williams (Nigel Mansell retired)
1990 – McLaren (Alain Prost joined Ferrari)
1988 – Williams (Nelson Piquet joined Lotus)
1978 – Ferrari (Niki Lauda joined Brabham)
1974 – Tyrrell (Jackie Stewart retired)

In the early seventies and before the practice of assigned driver numbers was less rigid. For example Emerson Fittipaldi started ti 1973 season as reigning champion, but used number two in the first round and number one thereafter.

In 1974 although Tyrrell’s Jackie Stewart won the drivers’ championship the previous year, the team used numbers three and four while Lotus, the reigning constructors’ champions, had one and two.

Staying with car numbers, David wants to know:

Why is it not mandated that the numbers on a race car must be of a certain size and more legible?

I for one miss the large numbers that used to be on cars during the sixties and before. It made it very easy to determine who was driving. F1 is looking to build viewership, a small change like this will help.

Here’s what the rules say about car number sizes:

Each car will carry the race number of its driver (or his replacement) as published by the FIA at the beginning of the season. This number must be clearly visible from the front of the car.
2009 F1 Sporting Regulations Article 21.2

No size is specified. To be honest, the most likely reason for this is so the teams have more room for advertising. And the FIA do mandate an easy way to tell the drivers apart:

In order that the cars of each team may be easily distinguished from one another whilst they are on the track, the on board cameras located above the principle roll structure of the first car must be predominantly fluorescent red and the second car fluorescent yellow.
2009 F1 Sporting Regulations Article 21.1

The ‘first car’ is the lowest-numbered car. You can check the numbers for the 2990 cars here: 2009 F1 drivers and teams

Jenson Button street?

Ed Horan has been to Jenson Button’s stomping ground and asks:

Visited Jenson’s hometown, Frome, recently and accidentally came across a small street named “Button Street”. Would be interested to know why it is so called?

Sure enough, here it is:


View Larger Map

I doubt it’s named after him as it doesn’t include his first name, but I could be wrong.

There are other roads named after F1 drivers in Britain including Ayrton Senna Road in Reading. If you know of any others, please post details below.

Working at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

A very interesting question from Vinod Kumar:

Hi I am working in Sheikh Khalifa Medical City as a radiographer in the deptartment of radiology. I have basic life support. I want to be a part of the fF1 Abu Dhabi Gmedical team. Can u give me the contact no or mail id or instruct me how to apply for it?

My first stop would be the Yas Island Marina website – get in touch with them and they should be able to point you in the right direction. Do let us know how it goes Vinod!

TV in the pits

Last up is H K Idris who wants to know:

Could you please clarify what is lowered on to the drivers (TV screen-like) whenever they are parked in their garages in the pits? Especially during free-practice or qualifiers? What is it & what do the drivers use/need it for?

These monitors give drivers access to various bits of information. They can view detailed time screens similar to the live timing displays we see via F1.com, with breakdowns of their laps and their rivals, sector-by-sector. They can also watch live television pictures – you often see them using a remote control to change the screen view.

Send in your questions – and answers

If you can help add to any of these answers please post a comment below.

And if you?ve got an F1 question of your own please send them in – you can email me, contact me on Twitter or leave a comment.

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