F1 is set to move to a permanent driver-numbering system from 2014

Permanent driver numbers will be given the go-ahead from the 2014 Formula 1 season, the FIA has confirmed.

The proposal was given the green light after a meeting of its Strategic Working Group yesterday, which was then formally signed off by the Formula One Commission to be implemented next year.

The #1 will remain preserved for the reigning World Championship – should he choose to use it – while every other driver will be able to choose between #2 to #99.

Should more than one driver nominate the same number, priority will be given to those who finished higher in the Drivers’ Championship standings.

The changes mean that Sebastian Vettel will be able to choose any number, while Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso will have second dibs.

The system is similar to that adopted by the MotoGP championship, where riders stick with numbers for their entire career, such as Valentino Rossi’s use of the #46, even when he was reigning World Champion.

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Nigel Mansell became synonymous with his ‘Red 5’.

One risk to this process would be the departure – and subsequent return – of a driver to the Formula 1 grid after a one- or multi-year absence (such as what happened for Michael Schumacher); the announcement has not indicated how this would be managed if their previous number had been acquired by another driver.

Prior to 1995, teams ran year-to-year with the same set of numbers, only changing to #1 and #2 if one of their drivers was the reigning World Champion – Ferrari historically ran with #27 and #28, Williams used #5 and #6 and Brabham used #7 and #8.

The return of the idea is a throwback to the nostalgic days of the 1980s, where the likes of Gilles Villeneuve (#27) and Nigel Mansell (#5) were commonly associated with their car numbers, although much of that was down to their racing for one team – Ferrari and Williams, respectively – for a considerable length of their career.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.

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