Lewis Hamilton explains reason for lucky number 44 with Verstappen set to use number one

Nico Rosberg tells of his willingness to befriend Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Hamilton has explained why he races with the number 44 on his car after perpetually shunning the opportunity to take the number one. Since 2014, F1 drivers have been able to choose their own number between zero and 99, with the number one being reserved for the world champion.

Hamilton has won the Drivers’ Championship a remarkable six times since initially choosing the number 44 – but he has refused to drive with the number one.

And he admits the decision is down to the fact the number 44 is his family’s lucky number.

“When I started racing when I was eight, the number plate on my dad’s car – he had this red Cavalier – was F44,” Hamilton told PETRONAS Motorsports.

“So he used 44 – it was his idea. And then it became the family lucky number.”

Driver numbers were originally allocated by event organisers at each race until permanent numbers were fully implemented in 1974.

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From 1996 until 2013, team numbers were ordered by the Constructors’ Championship positions of the previous season.

But from 2014 drivers have been allowed to select their own number.

Max Verstappen is set to race with the number one during the 2022 season after landing his maiden F1 title before Christmas.

The Red Bull driver led the standings for much of last season and held a 32-point advantage over Hamilton in July.

But the Briton hunted down his rival and drew level in the race for the title after winning three consecutive Grands Prix before the title-decider in Abi Dhabi.

The title protagonists went into the season climax level on points as the sporting world watched on to see how the season would end.

And Hamilton looked set to lift the F1 trophy for the fifth consecutive time as he led the desert race in the latter stages.

But the outcome of the season finale was turned on its head after Williams’ Nicholas Latifi crashed into a wall and a safety car was deployed.

Verstappen took the opportunity to pit for tyres, while Hamilton had to stay out to avoid losing track position.

Race director Michael Masi then gave permission for five lapped cars to unlap themselves and move out of the way after they found themselves in between the two title rivals.

And that set-up a final lap shootout between Hamilton and Verstappen, with the Dutchman taking advantage of his new set of tyres to storm to victory.

The controversial ending last year means the stakes will be even higher when the 2022 season gets underway in March.

And Hamilton and Verstappen will surely dominate proceedings once again.

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