Opposite to Lewis Hamilton: Max Verstappen Eyeing ‘Number 1’ Privilege If He Secures 2021 F1 Title

Published 11/12/2021, 5:25 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Mexico City Grand Prix – Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, Mexico City, Mexico – November 7, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen celebrates after winning the race Pool via REUTERS/Francisco Guasco


The title fight between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen has been boiling up from the very start of this season, with the duo offering quite the spectacle for the fans. But, as things stand, the Dutchman is holding the upper hand in the rivalry, finding himself 19 points ahead of the 7-time world champion.

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Hence, with ever-rising prospects of clinching the first-ever Formula 1 title this season, Verstappen already has priorities lined up for the forthcoming 2022 campaign; The Red Bull driver is keen on utilizing F1’s royal privilege for world champions.

What is the world champion ‘number 1’ about?

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Some might be pondering on what the ‘special treatment’ is. Back in 2014, F1 affirmed that no driver would be able to change their number after joining the grid. Meaning, once chosen, the driver will have to run with that particular number until the very end of their career.

However, for world champions, there is an option; A driver who wins an F1 title will gain the benefit of running with number 1 over the subsequent year.

Formula One F1 – United States Grand Prix – Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, U.S. – Red Bull’s Max Verstappen during a press conference after winning the United States Grand Prix FIA/Handout via REUTERS 

In Verstappen’s case, if he wins the 2021 F1 title, he will have the privilege of owning the number ‘1’ over the entire 2022 season. But, he must revert to his usual 33 by 2023 unless he wins the big trophy in 2022 as well.

Well, Verstappen is ready to take it. “How often do you have the opportunity to drive with the number 1?” he said according to Motorsport Total. “It’s also good for the merchandise. So it’s clever to do that.

Is Max Verstappen the first driver to chase after 1?

The answer is no. Prior to Verstappen, it was Sebastian Vettel, who owned the number 1 in the follow-up season to his 2013 world championship victory.

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Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton, having won 6 titles in this period, has so far, decided against utilizing the option, and rather chose to stick with 44. The only other driver between Vettel and Hamilton to win a championship was Nico Rosberg.

Formula One F1 – Belgian Grand Prix – Spa-Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton during practice REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

However, since the German retired following his 2016 title win, he failed to acquire the opportunity to own ‘1’. This makes Verstappen potentially the first driver in 8 years to run with the number 1. But, of course, it all depends on the 2021 season’s end result.

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So, can the Dutchman win the 2021 F1 title or will the ‘number 1’ privilege yet again fall under Hamilton’s foot? We’ll know in time.

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Rohit Kumar

1447 articles

Rohit Kumar is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. He has been an ardent follower of the racing series since 2007, with his love for the sport coinciding with his love for Kimi Raikkonen. He is also an ardent follower of Sebastian Vettel and Aston Martin Racing.

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