Lewis Hamilton runs with No 1 on his Mercedes to mark world champion status at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix… but will it replace his trademark No 44 for 2019 season?
- Lewis Hamilton has exclusive right to race with No 1 as the world champion
- But since introduction of personal numbers in 2014 he has raced with No 44
- F1 rules state he will have to race with No 44 this term as it his registered number
- READ: All the latest F1 news, features and points tables
Lewis Hamilton has embraced his status as world champion ahead of this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after changing the number on his car to No 1.
Up until 2014 world champions would traditionally race with the No 1 on their car the season after winning the world championship.
This system saw most drivers race with a number as decided by the order of the constructors’ championship from the previous season – with the exception of the world champion and his team-mate who would run with the No 1 and No 2 respectively.
Lewis Hamilton has placed the No 1 on his car for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi
As world champion, the Brit has an exclusive right to wear the No 1 on his car
But for the last five seasons, F1 drivers have copied their MotoGP counterparts by having each driver select a personal number, with Hamilton having run with the No 44 since.
However, Hamilton will only run the No 1 on an unofficial basis in Yas Marina. He will not officially be crowned 2018 champion until the FIA gala prize giving award at the end of the season.
As a result the No 1 on his car is technically to mark his 2017 world championship win, as he would not be allowed to run it had he not clinched last season’s title.
Sporting regulations requires the driver to race with a number he is registered to – No 44 in Hamilton’s case – which as usual will be displayed on the rear of the car
With the car registered as No 44, Hamilton will have to run the number as seen at the rear
Giving a double thumbs up, Hamilton was all smiles heading into the final race of the season
The Brit has now won the world championship four times in the era of personal numbers and this is the first time he has competed in an official timed session with the world champion’s number.
He secured this year’s world title at the Mexican Grand Prix and is now looking to win his 11th race of the season at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
Sebastian Vettel was the last driver to have the No 1 on his car in a race as he elected to keep his world championship number for 2014 after winning the 2013 title.
Hamilton has in the past preferred to keep the No 44 on his car, and it is understood this remains the case.
Hamilton has raced with No 44 in every race since personal numbers were introduced in 2014
The Brit’s main concern heading into first practice is the condition of his race engine.
Mercedes are heavily concerned with his engine after it was nursed home at the Brazilian GP and the team will use FP1 as a barometer to assess if it can compete in the race.
Seeing as this is Hamilton’s last fresh power unit of the season, he will face a grid penalty if they have to install a new one at any point this weekend.
Sebastian Vettel, as world champion, was the last driver to wear No 1 on his car back in 2014