The lone full-time rookie confirmed for the 2018 Formula 1 season, this year’s Formula 2 champion Charles Leclerc of Monaco, has selected No. 16 as his car number for his F1 career.
Leclerc’s No. 16 was listed on the car Alfa Romeo and Sauber revealed over the weekend. He is the first driver to have selected the number since drivers were allowed to pick their number for their career starting in 2014.
The significance is also notable because it’s only one number away from the late Jules Bianchi, one of Leclerc’s longtime friends coming up the junior open wheel ladder. Bianchi’s No. 17 was retired after he died in July 2015; the Nice, France-born driver has a street named after him in Nice, which Leclerc paid homage to earlier this year.
Leclerc is already fitting in nicely at Sauber and is fresh off testing with the team last week.
With this selection, at least one driver has selected each number from 2 to 22 with the exception of 15 since drivers could first pick their own numbers. The No. 1 is available for the reigning World Champion, though Lewis Hamilton has opted not to use it, and Nico Rosberg retired when he had the chance.
Only a handful of numbers from 23 and higher have been selected, notably Hamilton at 44, Valtteri Bottas at 77 and Max Verstappen at 33 among others.
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won Formula One’s Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday for his eighth career victory in a race which ended disastrously for both Ferrari drivers.
Verstappen controlled nearly all the race at Interlagos, which saw a dramatic late collision between Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc when they fought for the fourth position. Both failed to finish.
Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly got his first F1 podium after finishing second ahead of six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton. The Mercedes driver was third but faces an investigation after an incident that caused Red Bull’s Alexander Albon to spin.
Hamilton, who won at Interlagos in 2018, said Verstappen was “just quicker than us on the straights” and “there was nothing more we could do.”
Dutch driver Verstappen said “Lewis was very quick so I had to keep pushing… we had two good moves with him, and from there onward I could control the race.”
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fourth, and could be promoted to third if Hamilton is punished.
The Brazilian GP on Sunday was the penultimate race of the season, with only Abu Dhabi left on Dec.1.
Hamilton had already secured the season title in the previous race in the United States. His Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas, who did not finish the race, had also secured the runner-up spot.