Lewis Hamilton explains why he doesn't use No1 on his F1 car

Lewis Hamilton has given his reasons for not using the champion's allocated No1 on his car, and why he sticks with his own number

Hamilton no

Hamilton has almost exclusively used the no44 since 2014

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Lewis Hamilton has explained why he doesn’t use the No1 reserved for the reigning Formula 1 world champion on his car, instead opting for his own personal choice of number.

Formula 1 rules state that only the driver who has won the previous year’s title is permitted to use the no1 their car, but that they are not obliged to do so and can choose their own.

Hamilton, who is fighting to claim a record eighth title at Abu Dhabi this weekend, elaborated on how he views himself on the grid and the way in which he uses that as motivation to win.

“I don’t turn up with No1 one on my car,” he said in the pre-race press conference. “I turn up with the No44. I don’t consider myself the champion that year. I consider myself the one that’s fighting for a championship.

“At the moment it just feels like another championship for me. I don’t look at it as a multiple [championship achievement]. I always look at every season and every year as you start from ground zero and you’re fighting. You’re the hunter and you’re fighting from the moment you start training. The moment you get into the New Years, you’re training, focused on winning.”

Up until 2014, the reigning champion was required to use the no1, and the remaining drivers numbered in order of where their teams finished in the constructors’ championship.

Aside from the 2009 season following his first title year in 2008, and the Free Practice 1 sessions of 2018 and 2019, Hamilton has never used the no1, sticking with no 44.

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Hamilton explained why he chose that number in 2019.

“I always start with No44 because that’s the number that I had on my go-kart when I was eight years old,” he revealed during the 2019 BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards ceremony, where he finished second.

“It was my dad’s car registration number, F44, so each year it’s just a new chance to rise to the challenge.”

When appearing the Graham Norton television chat show in the same year, Hamilton used his choice of personal number to further demonstrate his motivation after a question about it now being more “dangerous” that he’s the driver to beat.

“It’s not more dangerous now, [but] I’m the second-oldest driver there, believe it or not,” he said.

“And [there are] these 19, 20 year olds that have come in, but no, honestly, I don’t think [it is more dangerous being champion].

“Naturally I think I am a target, but my race number when I was eight years old was 44. Even though I am number one, and I have been for the last couple of years and I should have number one on my car, I keep 44 on there.

“So every year I feel like I’m starting a clean slate and no one’s champion, but I want to be the champion.”