After clinching his maiden title, the 24-year-old Dutchman earns the right to switch out his regular race number 33.
Max Verstappen has stated that he will wear the number one on his Red Bull when defending his Formula One World Championship in 2022. After clinching his maiden title in dramatic fashion with a last-lap pass of season-long rival Lewis Hamilton, the 24-year-old Dutchman earns the right to switch out his regular race number 33. “Yeah I will run it,” said Verstappen when asked about using the number one. “How many times can you do that? I don’t know, maybe it’s the only time I can in my life. It’s the best number out there. So I will definitely put it on the car.”
It’s the first time a car has worn the number one for an entire season since 2014, when Sebastian Vettel did so after winning his fourth consecutive title the year before. That was the first campaign in which drivers were asked to select a number that they would use for the rest of their careers. They would then have the option of running number one if they won the championship. Despite winning six of the previous seven championships coming into this year, Hamilton has preferred to stay with his number 44. (although he did get dispensation to run it on a couple of occasions as a one-off in Friday practice).
His former teammate Nico Rosberg was the only other driver to be given the opportunity, but he retired after winning the 2016 championship. In other driver number news, debutant Guanyu Zhou has stated that he will wear the number 24 when he joins Alfa Romeo next year, while returning Alex Albon will wear the number 23 on his Williams, having previously worn it with Toro Rosso and Red Bull.
No rest 💪
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Verstappen revealed that Mercedes boss Toto Wolff congratulated him moments after winning his first title, making him the first Dutch driver to do so. “Toto sent me a text – congratulations on the season and that I deserved to win, that was very nice,” said Verstappen.
Hamilton responded in kind, saying he understands the anguish his rival is experiencing right now. “Of course it helps if you have already seven titles,” the Dutchman said. “That comforts him a bit. I think if it was the other way around, it would have been more painful for me because I didn’t have one. Lewis came up to me and congratulated me. It must have been very tough in that last lap. It also shows the respect we have for each other. Of course we had our tough times through the season but we respect what we’re doing and we were pushing each other to the limit and it has been very enjoyable racing against him,” he concluded.