Lewis Hamilton says he opted to race with the #44 rather than the traditional #1 used by the defending champion because his personal number ‘means more’.
Under the current rules a driver picks a number at the start of their F1 career and carries it throughout their time in Formula 1, rather than the previous system when race numbers were handed out in order of the previous constructors’ standings.
Hamilton picked the #44 when the rules were changed ahead of the 2014 season, and raced the number to a second world championship, earning him the right to use the #1 this year.
However, the Mercedes racer has opted to keep his personal race number in 2015, rather than use the ‘irrelevant’ #1.
“The rules changed a year ago where they said that we have to choose a number that is going to be the number for us for the rest of our careers,” Hamilton explained to reporters on Saturday.
“You can get number one, everyone can choose number one when they win the championship, but it’s irrelevant to me.
“44 means more to me than number one. 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.
“Number one itself – Vettel’s had it, Schumacher’s had it, all the champions have had it. But none of them had 44. 44’s mine.”
Mercedes enters 2015 as the team to beat after its dominant display, but Hamilton says the mindset of the reigning champions has not changed.
“It’s the same approach really,” he explained. “Every year we want to win. It all starts again. It’s not ‘hey we’ve got the crown and we don’t want to give it away’, it’s ‘we want to get it’.”
This article first appeared on Richland F1 – Image courtesy of Mercedes AMG PETRONAS