Lewis Hamilton has explained the reasons behind his decision to not carry the traditional #1 on his car after winning last year’s world championship, electing to retain #44 for 2015.
For the 2014 season, drivers were asked to pick permanent numbers that they would carry for the remainders of their F1 careers to aid brand image and identification.
Hamilton picked #44, but was offered the #1 after winning last year’s world championship. However, he decided to stick with his existing number.
Speaking to the media on Saturday in Barcelona, Hamilton said that carrying the #1 meant far less to him than keeping his #44.
“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 said. “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.”
2015 will be the first season since 1994 that the #1 has not been carried in Formula 1. Alain Prost won the 1993 world title for Williams, but retired at the end of the season, meaning that it was not used the following year.
For Hamilton, entering the season as the defending world champion doesn’t change a great deal in his approach, although it does mean Mercedes will be first in the pit lane.
“I was actually just thinking in the garage that it will be nice being the first one in the pit lane,” Hamilton said. “I don’t remember the last time I had that, so that will be quite new for us.
“Otherwise, it’s the same approach really. 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’.”
The 2015 F1 season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 15.