F1 champion Lewis Hamilton rejects #1 as 'irrelevant' and keeps #44

Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton has decided to stick with his permanent #44 race number for his title defence this year, because #1 is "irrelevant" to him

F1 champion Lewis Hamilton rejects #1 as 'irrelevant' and keeps #44

Rules were introduced ahead of last season requiring all F1 drivers to pick a permanent race number to carry throughout their careers, as part of a drive to give them a distinct identity in the eyes of fans.

Drivers must carry the same number from season to season, but are permitted to switch to #1 if they win the world championship.

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel wore #1 last year with Red Bull, but has switched to his chosen #5 after failing to defend his crown.

Hamilton had the option to put the #1 on his Mercedes this year, after winning his second world title in 2014, but the Brit has opted to stick with #44.

"Everyone can get #1 when they win the championship, but it's irrelevant for me," Hamilton explained.

"#44 means more to me than #1. It doesn't mean I'm not number one. #44 is my family number, it's the number I had when I first started racing; I won my first championship with #44. It means something to me.

"The #1 itself, Vettel's had it, Schumacher's had it, all of the champions have had it, but no one's had #44."

Hamilton added that he sported #1 on his 2009 McLaren, after winning his first world title, but said: "It didn't look very good on the car; #44 looks better."

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