Historical personalised driver numbers

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    While I’m not a fan per se of the new permanent driver numbers, it did get me thinking about what car numbers I associate most with past drivers. Basically this thread is to speculate further about driver numbers, but in a historical context.

    Michael Schumacher Has stated a preference for odd numbers. Only started a single race with an even one (his debut) but had 5 (’93, ’94, ’97, ’06) and 3 (’98, ’99, ’00, ’10) most often after 1. Still, 7 seems to be a number he likes a lot as he had the 7 stars on his helmet even before winning a championship. I’d say either 7 or 3.

    Nigel Mansell Red Five.

    Jean Alesi Most likely to pick 27 due to the Ferrari connection, even before joining the Scuderia.

    Jos Verstappen While not having a favorite number per se, he did 3 seasons starting with number 19 (’97, ’98, ’00) and carried it on his personal merch in 2000.

    Damon Hill Did seemingly not mind starting with car number 0 in ’93 and ’94 and is somewhat iconic.

    Mika Hakkinen Carried 7 and 8 for the majority of his time at McLaren. Would probably have a slight preference for 8 after 1998.

    Pierluigi Martini Carried 23 with Minardi for all but 2 seasons he drove for them.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    Hill used 0 in 1993 because Mansell retired. He used it in 1994 because Prost retired. Under the pre-1995 numbering system, the champion’s team took the numbers 1 and 2. But because Mansell and Prost retired after winning the title, no-one could use the number 1. Because Williams were still entitled to use the number 2, they were given the number 0 because the alternative was to use the number 3 and force everyone to temporarily change their numbers.


    Moss used 7 a lot.


    Gerhard Berger I always associate with 28 – he used it for two long periods at Ferrari, and a year at McLaren in between.
    Prost turned down 0 in 1993, and used 2 instead. Number 2 was good to him – every time he used it, he became World Champion…
    But the drivers didn’t have any choice back then – the numbering system was well-established (until FIA started messing with it, e.g. Schumacher went from 19 to 5 for some reason).


    I know Hill was somewhat forced to use 0 as both Prost as Senna refused the number, but I’d argue Hill in the ’94 Williams with #0 is a more appealing image than the 5 he used in ’95 (due to Benetton getting 1 and 2 with Schumacher’s wdc) or 96 (as per the then new system).

    The system wasn’t really as permanent as it is portrayed sometimes. Looking at Pierluigi Martini’s numers I noticed Minardi had one in between season not using 22 and 23. Ferrari used 11 and 12 before 27 and 28. I think I read Benetton got 5 and 6 as McLaren chose 7 and 8 rather in ’93.

    I didn’t know Williams were offered 3 and 4 though, as Tyrrell basically owned those. Of course, Katayama not wanting to use 4 because it sounds like death in Japanese finds itself relevant to this topic.

    Max Jacobson

    I think 93 might get used. It’s not historical as such and it’s not F1-related, but it’s a famous number already.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    @npf1 – On the subject of superstitious drivers refusing to use certain numbers, Esteban Tuero refused to use the numbers 13 or 17. 13 doesn’t get used, of course, and since he was in a Minardi circa 1998, he was never going to get 17. 17 is unlucky in Italy because in Roman numerals, it is XVII, which is an anagram for the Latin word VIXI, which is translated as “I have seen”. But Latin being Latin, it can also be translated to “I have lived”, and the implication of tense means that it could also be translated as “I am dead”.

    Prisoner Monkeys

    @vettel1 – I can’t really see a driver using a number that is famous in another series. Not unless someone is a big Marc Marquez fan.


    Jacques Laffite – mr. 26


    When permanent numbers were introduced in 1974, Ferrari had 11 and 12, and the only reason they have maintained 27 and 28 throughout the years was because they had to switch with Williams when Jones won his title, and then had 15 barren years which rendered them stuck with those numbers (with the exception of 1990, but that changed again when McLaren won; if anyone else had won, 27 and 28 would have stuck with McLaren).


    I think I read Benetton got 5 and 6 as McLaren chose 7 and 8 rather in ’93.

    Yes, McLaren got to pick 7 and 8 (the numbers they had when Ron bought them in ’81) because the team that used to have them (Brabham) went bankrupt.

    I think 93 might get used. It’s not historical as such and it’s not F1-related, but it’s a famous number already.

    I think they won’t be too keen on 93 unless they have a special connection to it. It’ll be hard to maximize the monetary impact if you’re sharing a number with another famous star (in this case, Marc Marquez – and he’ll be around for a while yet). For that same reason, I think they’ll avoid 46 too.


    This is how I always had them in mind historically

    1 and 2 – Champions
    3 and 4 – Tyrrell
    5 and 6 – Williams
    7 and 8 – McLaren and Brabham
    9 and 10 – Footwork/Arrows
    11 and 12 – Lotus
    19 and 20 – Toleman/Benetton
    21 and 22 – Dallara
    23 and 24 – Minardi
    25 and 26 – Ligier
    27 and 28 – Ferrari

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