Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2018

“I don’t like it at all”: Hamilton explains his one-off number one

2018 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton says he chose to run the number one on his car as a one-off because his engineers had asked him to.

Mercedes have never run a number one on their car despite their drivers having won the last five world championships in a row. The team also took Jenson Button to the 2009 title when it was Brawn, the year before Mercedes took over.

“I personally don’t like it,” said Hamilton when asked why he had chosen to use the number. “I don’t like it at all.

“The reason I did it is I’ve been here for six years and I remember when the team had number one when Jenson won the world title, and [he] moved to McLaren and brought the number one with him, it’s strange that McLaren would then have the number one on the car.

“So since we’ve been world champions we’ve never had number one on the car. And I thought it would just be cool.”

Hamilton was officially entered as number 44 this weekend but displayed number one on the front of his car during first practice only.

“I remember the engineers and the mechanics asking me at one stage asking me if I would do it,” he said. “And I thought it would be cool to just have it on the car for one session so at least they will have a picture somewhere that they could be proud of with that ‘we were number one’.

“Because 44 doesn’t really… that’s my special number. And in actually fact everyone on the team, on my car particularly, were saying to me they’re travelling they’ll see a bus number 44 or a flight or seat number 44 and it’s becoming part of their lives. Which is great because it’s exactly how it was with me. So it was cool.

“But it was just for one session, it doesn’t really mean anything.”

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Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Yas Marina, 2018
Hamilton ran different numbers on opposite ends of his car

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  • 31 comments on ““I don’t like it at all”: Hamilton explains his one-off number one”

    1. Of course he doesn’t like it. Any world champion deserves 1, but 44 is his “brand”, so how could he stand out if he was driving as 1 as the world champion ought to?

      I just know Hamilton will, as soon as he has announced his retirement – whenever that will be – start passive-aggressively implying that 44 should be retired for future use.

      It is kind of amazing that a man that will literally never know I exist is somehow capable of executing every action he could possibly do to annoy me.

      1. I think you’re fining Lewis too much credit when it comes to the originality of it.

        In MotoGP, who have had a similar numbering system for much longer, not all drivers have chosen to wear the Champions number after winning the Championship. Rossi comes to mind with his legendary 46, perhaps Marquez and I even think Lorenzo has done it both ways.

        As to the last part of your comment, it’s funny how you are aware of how you let someone affect you so much.

      2. It is kind of amazing that a man that will literally never know I exist is somehow capable of executing every action he could possibly do to annoy me.

        Sounds like the plot to a teenage rom-com.

      3. Man you have a problem.

        Plus nĀ°44 will probably be retired or at least respected for years and years to come as it is the number of a champion who is defining an era

      4. Accepting you have a problem is the first step in solving it. :)

      5. My dad has always said that Hamilton does sincere things in the most insincere way possible. He’s probably not that wrong and I think it’s possible why he annoys some people. Lewis seems to have a way of doing things that sound great initially and then he carries on talking and kinda puts his foot in it.

        Reading this article for example, he ran the number 1 one his car; why not? It’s kinda cool and he’s entitled to.

        Mechanics and engineers asked him too; nice one Lewis, doing something for the team.

        Then he says he doesn’t actually like it and it doesn’t mean anything; this is where I get to my face palm moment. For me, he was winning until he said. He’d said he thought it would be cool at that point he probably should have stopped.

        Now, I like Lewis, I think he’s a great driver and in a great car he can really show off his skill. He’s not always the most entertaining to watch in a race, but qualifying? He’s just something else. When he gives interviews though, he seems to put his foot in it a lot and this makes him into media fodder. I know its these interviews that annoy my dad and that’s basically the reason he doesn’t like him.

        Maybe if Lewis stopped talking 5 minutes before the end of an interview, some people would get less annoyed with him.

        1. I’m with you and your Dad on this one I think.

    2. What irks me a bit (and this is just nitpicking) is that he’s entitled to use the number 1 here because he won the championship last year, right?. So they are celebrating the 2017 title which is a bit odd.

      I’m with Lewis, tho. I like that each driver has its own number, like in MotoGP or NASCAR.

      1. FlyingLobster27
        23rd November 2018, 18:54

        NASCAR often comes up in the “driver numbers” topic, but it’s incorrect @fer-no65. It’s the teams that keep the same numbers years on end, and drivers who join get one of those; they will keep the number during their whole tenure at the team, and driver turnover isn’t as frequent in NASCAR, but the driver doesn’t own the number. Matt Kenseth was #17 for a long time, because he drove for Roush, and then he moved to Joe Gibbs, where he “took over the no.20” from Tony Stewart.
        Same goes in IndyCar. Dixon isn’t number 9, Ganassi’s entry is. If Alonso wants to race #14 at Indy, he has to sign for Foyt.

        I’ve never been a fan of driver numbers in car racing, I’ve always seen it as a bike thing. Car racing traditionally had team numbers, and the fact that driver numbers in F1 are written in the team’s font on the car is not a detail in my mind.

        1. When it comes to NASCAR and car numbers, the situation is fluid. For the most part teams will keep the same numbers every year, but they are willing to change them either due to sponsorship reasons or for a particular driver. Hendrick Motorsports took the #9 for Chase Elliott, as it was the number his father had success with. The #24 was given to William Byron and the #5 that had been with the team since they began was dropped.

      2. good point

      3. No @fer-no65. If he becomes world champion at the end of 2018 then he is the reigning/current world champion until the end of 2019. So he is entitled to use the number one for the year he is current champion. Pretty simple and obvious to me.

    3. It would be interesting to hear who people associate number 1 with.

      It’s probably a product of when you first started watching F1, but for me number 1 on the front of the car = Michael Schumacher

      1. @cduk_mugello and number 0 on the car = Damon Hill.

        1. That’s because the previous season a Williams driver won the world championship so Williams were assigned the numbers one and two. However the world champ retired so Damon Hill has to use zero instead.

    4. Strange that while he did have number 1 on top of the nose, the airbox still had number 44!

      Has it ever happened before that a car ran with 2 different numbers at the same time?

    5. i think it should be obligatory for the world champion to run #1 just as it was in the past.

      i hate how the last few years we have not had #1 on the grid because for me #1 is associated with the world champion, the best on the grid from the past season & the easiest way for new fans to know who the guy to beat is.

      1. RogerA, depends when exactly you are referring to as “the past”, as that rule did not exist until the mid 1970s – the idea of any sort of fixed numbering system was only introduced in the early 1970s, but it took several years before it was sorted.

        Before that, the defending WDC had no right to any particular number – it depended on the whims of the race organisers as to what number they might get.

        Fangio, for example, rarely used No.1 on his car – he used it only five times in his career, with only three of those appearances being when he was a defending champion (in 1955, Fangio did not use No.1 at all, despite being the defending champion that year).

        Similarly, Ascari only ever raced with that number once in his career (in the 1953 German GP), even when he was defending his title, and Brabham only intermittently used No.1 when he was defending his titles (in 1960, for example, he only used that number once: equally, in 1963 Graham Hill spent the majority of that season racing under different numbers.

        Even after the idea of fixed numbers was introduced, No.1 was not linked to the WDC winning driver – it was linked to the team that won the WCC and to the cars that they entered. That is why, in 1974, Ronnie Peterson was allocated No.1 – Lotus had won the 1973 WCC title, and No.1 went to the team that was defending their constructors title, not to the drivers (indeed, in 1974 there was no defending champion given that Stewart had retired).

        It wasn’t really until the late 1970s that they made an explicit link between the WDC winning driver and No.1. Even after that, there seems to have been some ambiguity – famously, John Watson used No.1 in the 1985 European GP when he temporarily replaced Lauda for that race.

        1. What a great factual answer to dispel notions of Hamiltonism. Nice one :)

    6. I do really like the personal numbers..
      But that #1 on that car just looks right!

    7. Why are his engineers so proud of ‘number 1’ when Ferarri engineers designed the fastest car? according to Toto Wolff and many journalists (who happen to be Hamilton fans)
      Maybe it’s a kind of ‘please don’t replace us’

      1. What are you even on about?

      2. because they won the championship, is that not reason enough? frankly, other than it making your chances harder, having the fastest car and winning the world championship isn’t necessary and isn’t always synonymous.

      3. The 1 isn’t for this season …. Though I wouldn’t expect you of all people to actually understand F1 give the absolute excrement you post on here

      4. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        26th November 2018, 12:10

        Good lord you chat some nonsense little Joe.

    8. Tommy Scragend
      24th November 2018, 0:17

      Well if it was just for FP1, not for the entire weekend, then I suppose it’s not as bad.

      Although Hamilton does contradict himself when he says, “I personally don’t like it. I don’t like it at all.” But he also says, “And I thought it would just be cool.ā€

      So which is it, Lewis?

      1. Cool to do something for his engineers (who did want it on the car). No contradiction here.

      2. Fudge Kobayashi (@)
        26th November 2018, 12:13

        Cool to do something for the lads but personally he didn’t like it. Not rocket science.

    9. Numbers? I get irked that they’re not using international racing colors.

      1. Yes, I too find that annoying but, unfortunately, in this sponsorship driven era the colours have to go with the money. Also things are not quite so straightforward nowadays, e.g. Mercedes are a German company but their racing team is based in Brackley, so should the colour be the colour of the nationality of the team owners or the place of manufacture. Given the facts that throughout the team’s evolution from Tyrell to BAR to Honda to Brawn to Mercedes the base has always been in Brackley and the engines are currently supplied by Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains based in Brixworth, Northamptonshire, I think they should play the UK national anthem for the constructors when Mercs are on the podium.

    10. Tongue was firmly planted in cheek.

      I don’t care for team liveries, however German and Japanese teams, i feel, are the most respectful of IRCs in international categories of Motorsports.

      White (silver) is almost always used by BMW, VAG and Mercedes. And then if you check Toyota’s, Mitsubishi’s, Honda’s and even Suzuki’s they’re pretty consistent too.

      Tongue less in cheek: The driver’s helmets.

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