How long does a driver keep his F1 number?

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    I see that Lotterererererer will race with the number 45 this weekend, so that is his number allocated for the entirity of his career. The question is, when is his career deemed to be over? If he has his one race and is never seen again, at what point will they put his number back in the pool for others?

    Thinking back to Nige’s career, he went away for a couple of years to do the IndyCar thing, and then he came back. Would he have maintained that number throughout his absence? The same goes for Kimi too.


    Each driver has three choices, for the time he is in F1. The number he gets depends on who else is on the grid. If Button for example leaves, 22 will be free for anyone to get. Or, for example, Bianchi’s first three choices were: 7, 27 and 77. If Raikkonen, Hulk or Bottas leave Bianchi will get one of his other choices.

    But this of it. If each number is for a driver, and for the entirety of his career, in a few years we will run out of them. :D

    Also, this number system started this year. From 1996 I think, number 1 was for the defending champion (driver), 2 for his teammate, and the other numbers depended on the constructors championship.

    Before that, teams where exchanging numbers, if the one was the defending driver’s champion team, and the other was the successor’s team. For example, in 1989, McLaren had 1 (Senna) and 2 (Prost) and Ferrari 27 (Mansell) and 28 (Berger). Prost won that championship and took 1 with him at Ferrari, with teammate Mansell geting the 2. McLaren got Ferrari’s numbers, 27 (Senna) and 28 (Berger).

    PS: Sorry for any grammar or spelling mistakes :)


    For me it seems that mid-season drivers didn’t get a chance to select numbers. 3rd drivers, including those who have driven in Friday sessions and those who have done only pre- or mid-season testing have logic in their numbers. Susie Wolff mentioned that 41 wasn’t her selection – if she had been allowed to choose her selection would have been 24.

    Anyway, looks like each team was given two extra numbers. Those numbers are successive and in the order of WCC last year:

    Red Bull has 15 and 16 (15 used by Buemi in testing)
    Mercedes has 23 and 24 (not used)
    Ferrari has 28 and 29 (28 used by de la Rosa in testing)
    Lotus has 30 and 31 (30 has been used in testing)
    McLaren has 32 and 33 (32 used by Vandoorne in testing)
    Force India has 34 and 35 (34 used by Juncadella)
    Sauber has 36 and 37 (36 used by van der Garde)
    Toro Rosso has 38 and 39 (not used, thinking that Verstappen will have 38 then)
    Williams has 40 and 41 (40 used by Nasr, 41 by Wolff)
    Marussia has 42 and 43 (42 used by Rossi)
    Caterham has 45 and 46 (45 used by Rossi and Lotterer, 46 by Frijns)

    For next year it is interesting if there are mid-season changes. Especially if driver who started this season as regular driver is replacement. Like Vergne joining Lotus as a test driver and then replacing Maldonado who gets suspended.

    I think the numbers should stay for one year and beginning of the year after. So new drivers for 2015 and 2016 would not be able to select numbers used by this year’s drivers. Unless one of them actually announces retirement from F1, then the number is free.

    Like if the current system had been in place last year, Webber’s number would be free while di Resta’s number would be still reserved for him.

    Iestyn Davies

    @Bleu If that is true, it just shows how silly the FIA really are. Why would teams need reserved test numbers, if drivers can choose their own?

    For example, I would allow everyone to have their own number. But only in a race would the numbers be locked down – and then maybe I would only lock it per season. So Bianchi could graduate to 7 in a Ferrari if he wished – and the team would get continuity by chance into the next year.

    This would also allow a new driver to have a number, even if used the year previous. This works for both testing and racing – unless you lock the testing number to the driver per season as well. That might stop ‘number pinching’ mid-season..

    Iestyn Davies

    Also, I just read that the FIA have a limit on the number of drivers a team can use per season – 4 in races – how ridiculous is that? If Caterham want to run Kobayashi, Ericsson, Rossi, Frijns, Lotterer, Sainz Jr and Merhi in order to survive, why not let them?

    It would be nice to see how Sainz Jr and Merhi fare in comparison to Kobayashi/Lotterer/Ericsson as well. Why deny someone their F1 debut (or only chance of a race.. could have happened to Lotterer) for the sake of bureaucracy?


    Wasn’t the rule on how many drivers you could run something like 2 drivers in car 1 and 3 in car 2? Or did I miss the rule change on that one?

    Euro Brun

    According to an article on Autosport:

    “F1’s regulations limit teams to using four drivers over the course of the campaign, unless there are ‘force majeure’ reasons for having more.

    It means that Caterham would need to apply to the FIA to run both Merhi and Sainz later this season, as it has already used Ericsson, Kobayashi and Lotterer.”



    Disagree with the idea of teams using as many drivers as they want over a season! That’ll turn Caterham into a team with no drivers. They’ll simply auction both seats for every race.

    I understand they are struggling at the moment but that is because F1 is run by people who simply want to drain as much money from the sport as possible into their bank accounts.


    So what will happen in 2015? Of course Ferrari aren’t going to run Gutierrez or Vergne in Friday practice, but will they use, if the need arises, their own numers (21 & 25) or the allocated test driver numbers (30 & 31)? Also, with 33 taken by Verstappen, that means McLaren will be allocated 34 & 35, Force India 36 & 37 and so on.

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