‘I will use it’: Max Verstappen not planning change for 2023

Max Verstappen wrapped up his second Formula 1 title at the Japanese Grand Prix earlier in the year.

Formula 1 is a sport full of traditions, with one of those being that a driver can only earn the right to bear #1 on their car after they win a world title.

Drivers were allowed to select their own personal car number in 2014, with Max Verstappen selecting #33 when he made his debut in the sport, due to Daniel Ricciardo holding his favoured number three.

Sebastian Vettel adopted the champion’s #1 in 2014 as he looked to defend his title, while Lewis Hamilton has always decided to stick with his #44, which dates all the way back to his karting days.

With Verstappen defending his title successfully in 2022, the two-time world champion one again has the choice between #33 and #1 next year, and has now revealed that he will continue to honour the champion’s tradition.

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“Yes, I will use number 1 again next season. For me, starting number 1 is the most beautiful number there is for any racing driver,” he said after the season reached its conclusion in Abu Dhabi.

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

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

Driver numbers are often now as important to the driver’s branding as it is to their superstitions, with Lando Norris’s #4 being a key part of his logo and brand ‘Quadrant’.

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While Verstappen will definitely bear #1 on his 2023 challenger, it will be a lot more difficult for the Dutchman to do so in 2024, as Red Bull find themselves wounded and with a target on their back following their breach of the 2021 cost cap.

The team from Milton Keynes will have significantly less wind tunnel testing time than their rivals, due to both their finishing position in the championship and their punishment set by the FIA, which will see a ten per cent reduction in their allocated time.

Verstappen will have to extract every millisecond of time from his car next year if he wants to prevent the #16 of Charles Leclerc or #44 of Lewis Hamilton being given the chance to change to the iconic #1.