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2024 F1 driver race numbers: Who uses what number and why?

All Formula 1 drivers choose a permanent race number with which they use throughout their F1 career and only the reigning world champion is allowed to change numbers. But which drivers use what number and what is the story behind their choice?

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB18

In F1, all drivers use a fixed race number. The championship introduced this concept in 2014 to increase the recognition of the drivers on the track for the fans. In previous years, the starting numbers were handed out based on the final ranking of the constructors' championship from the prior season.

Now only the reigning world champion can choose to change his number for the season: he may replace it with the #1. All other drivers must stick to their chosen number. 

Behind each choice is a story. It could be a driver's 'lucky' number or they have special memories of the number.

Here are all the driver numbers for the 2024 F1 season and the explanations behind them. 

F1 driver race numbers in 2024

Race number Driver Team
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull
2 Logan Sargeant Williams
3 Daniel Ricciardo RB
4 Lando Norris McLaren
10 Pierre Gasly Alpine
11 Sergio Perez Red Bull
14 Fernando Alonso Aston Martin
16 Charles Leclerc Ferrari
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin
20 Kevin Magnussen Haas
22 Yuki Tsunoda RB
23 Alex Albon Williams
24

Zhou Guanyu

Sauber

27

Nico Hulkenberg

Haas

31 Esteban Ocon Alpine
44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes
55 Carlos Sainz Jr Ferrari
63 George Russell Mercedes
77 Valtteri Bottas Sauber
81 Oscar Piastri McLaren

Will Max Verstappen drive with race number 1 in 2024?

Reigning world champion Max Verstappen has stuck with #1 for the 2024 F1 season. Following his maiden title in 2021, the Red Bull driver switched from his usual #33 to #1 for 2022 - and that has remained ever since, as he's won the two championships since.

"How often do you get the chance to drive with starting number 1 in your Formula 1 career? You never know," Verstappen said.

"I can always go back to number 33 if I am no longer world champion. But as long as I am world champion, I will use number 1 every single year."

Sebastian Vettel was the last driver to use the #1 in 2014. In subsequent years, the title went to Lewis Hamilton, who stuck to his #44, or to Nico Rosberg. The German retired immediately after his world title and therefore no driver could use the #1 in 2017.

Why did Max Verstappen pick #33?

In the years before his first world title Verstappen drove in F1 with #33. The story behind this choice is quite simple: in his youth the Dutchman had the #3 as a lucky number. He wanted to use it in F1, but the number was already taken by Daniel Ricciardo, so Verstappen then chose to use #33 "for double happiness". 

 

"As a kid I raced around with this number, so I thought it would be fun to use #33 in Formula 1 as well," he explained on social media, accompanying a photo of an electric toy car he drove around the family's garden.

At other times in his career he has also driven with a #3, while in the European Formula 3 Championship, the Dutchman raced as #30 and on his debut for Toro Rosso he used #38.

F1 drivers' numbers for 2024 and the story behind their choice

Logan Sargeant uses #2 and ahead of his rookie season in 2023, he said: “I used to run it in Formula Renault, and I had a pretty good season that year. Number three is my number, but that’s taken so I figured why not take a winning number from the past and run with it in F1?”

Ricciardo has used #3 since he joined Red Bull in 2014. The Australian used the number in his karting days but also revealed: “I was a big fan of [NASCAR Cup champion] Dale Earnhardt. I’m a fan of motorsports, but I’ve followed NASCAR since I was very young.” Earnhardt won a record-equalling seven titles across the 1980s and 1990s, but was killed in a crash at the 2001 Daytona 500, aged 49. When asked to pick a number for F1, Ricciardo said: “It was a no-brainer for me to choose the three.” 

Lando Norris has given his McLaren the #4, explaining: "The story is that there is no story. It fits well with the hashtag #L4ndo, but it's not a number I've used in all racing classes." Norris is a big fan of MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi and considered using his #46, but said he didn't want to be a 'copycat' so opted for the #4.

Pierre Gasly has #10. The Frenchman won the 2013 Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup with that number and is also a big fan of footballing legend Zinedine Zidane, who wore #10 when playing for France.

Sergio Perez uses the number 11 on his car. The origin is not in motorsport, but in football. The Mexican is a big fan of Club America, especially of former player Ivan Zamorano. "I liked how Bam-Bam played, how he scored. I became a fan of his and decided to race with that number. To this day I've always used #11 everywhere, right down to my email address," Perez said.

Fernando Alonso uses #14. On 14 July 1999, at the age of 14, he became world champion in karting with #14. "From that moment I knew #14 was my number," he said.

Charles Leclerc competes in F1 with the number 16. The Ferrari driver was born on 16 October 1997. His preference was initially for the lucky number seven, but that was already taken by Kimi Raikkonen. Next, Leclerc wanted #10, but that was already driven by his good friend Gasly. After some simple maths, he decided on #16 "because one plus six is seven," he explained.

Lance Stroll has fitted his Aston Martin with #18. In the early days of his career he won the Italian Formula 4 Championship with this race number. And then shortly after his 18th birthday, he made his F1 debut with Williams. "A bit superstitious, but I like to hold on to little things that are important to me. I don't want to change them," he said.

Kevin Magnussen runs with #20 in F1 as it is the number he won the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series title with, the year before he made his grand prix debut at McLaren.

Yuki Tsunoda opted for #22 in F1. The Japanese driver had the number 11 in his early karting days and wanted to use it in F1 as well, but that was already occupied by Perez. Tsunoda simply doubled the number and ended up with #22.

Alex Albon sticks with #23, which he also used in the first phase of his F1 career. Like Norris, Albon is a big Rossi fan and in his karting days the British-Thai raced with his #46, but decided to opt for half of that number in F1.

 

Zhou Guanyu races with #24 - last used in 2012 by Timo Glock. The Chinese driver chose this number as a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, who wore the number 24 while playing for the Los Angeles Lakes - and Zhou was a big fan of the basketball legend.

When Nico Hulkenberg returned to F1 full-time in 2023, he began reusing the #27 that he had in the early stages of his career. The number is already fairly famous in F1 having been used to great success by Gilles Villeneuve, as well as occasionally by a handful of other stars including Ayrton Senna and Jean Alesi. But, the German’s alleged reason behind picking #27 isn’t related to that at all, as it is the date and month of his birthday added together: 19 August.

Esteban Ocon uses the #31, which he used when he claimed his first karting title in 2007 - a year that he still considers as one of the best in his career. In 2014, Ocon also used #31 for his F1 test debut in a Lotus.

Hamilton races with #44. The seven-time world champion drove his first kart race with #44, but didn't know what race number to choose in 2014 so he took the number from the licence plate of his father's car: F44. With that number he laid the foundation for his successful career and therefore wanted to use it in F1. Even in the years when he was entitled to race with #1 as world champion, the Briton stuck to his #44.

Carlos Sainz drives with #55, explaining that "the S of my first name is like a 5 and so is the S of my last name, so that makes #55". His favourite number is actually five, but that was already taken by Vettel - so with this self-invented word game he reached #55.

George Russell uses #63, saying that "my brother used to kart with the number 63, so this has become our family number ever since".

Valtteri Bottas races with #77. The Finn, like several other drivers, wanted the lucky number seven. However, as it was already taken by Raikkonen, Bottas chose #77 which he cleverly applied to his personal merchandise with the logo Bo77as.

Oscar Piastri chose #81 in F1, having used the number sporadically in his junior career. Starting with #11 while karting in Australia, Piastri switched to #81 as a rival already had his previous race number. When he started racing in Europe, he used various numbers but returned to #81 when competing in both British F4 and the Formula Renault Northern European Cup. 

Which race numbers cannot be used in F1?

F1 drivers cannot pick the number 17. Jules Bianchi was using this number when he crashed at Suzuka during the 2014 Japanese GP and the injuries he sustained from it ultimately killed him nine months later. As a tribute, F1 decided to withdraw the number 17. 

How long is a driver entitled to an F1 starting number?

A driver who leaves F1 can still use his old number for up to two years in case of a possible comeback. During this period the number cannot be used by another driver. For example, Alonso could choose #14 again when he returned to F1 in 2021 after leaving at the end of 2018, Albon could take #23 again and likewise Hulkenberg with #27. When a driver returns after a longer absence, they must choose a new starting number.

These starting numbers cannot be used in 2024:

Start number

Belonged to

Expires

5

Sebastian Vettel

End of 2024

6

Nicholas Latifi

End of 2024

17

Jules Bianchi

Permanent

21

Nyck de Vries 

End of 2025

47

Mick Schumacher

End of 2024

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