Rosberg yet to decide on using No. 1 in 2017, could keep ‘lucky’ No. 6

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Nico Rosberg is yet to decide whether he will use the No. 1 reserved for Formula 1 world champions in 2017, having used No. 6 through his title-winning campaign.

Permanent numbers were introduced to F1 for the 2014 season, with the No. 1 being reserved for the defending world champion should they choose to use it.

Sebastian Vettel ran with the No. 1 through 2014, with his preferred choice, No. 5, being reserved for when he was not world champion.

Lewis Hamilton has opted to pass on the offer to use the No. 1 through 2015 and 2016, having won the past two titles, and instead stuck with his traditional No. 44.

Rosberg claimed his maiden F1 World Championship on Sunday in Abu Dhabi, defeating Hamilton by five points in a nail-biting finale.

Rosberg has raced with No. 6 since permanent numbers were introduced, and is yet to decide on whether he will make use of the No. 1 for 2017.

“I have no idea,” Rosberg said when asked what number he would use.

“I love number six of course, my dad won the World Championship with number six as well, so it’s a very lucky number for us.

“Don’t know, that’s it.”

Rosberg will be the first F1 driver to make a decision about using the No. 1 without having previously used it, with both Vettel and Hamilton running the number before the new system was introduced in 2014.

A similar choice regarding use of the No. 1 is given to drivers in IndyCar, with Scott Dixon sticking with his No. 9 for the 2016 season despite winning the 2015 title. Simon Pagenaud is expected to race with the No. 1 in 2017 as defending champion.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”