Max Verstappen has joked that he hopes his usual race number does not have a reason to appear on his car any time soon.
Verstappen, who usually races in F1 with the number 33, has chosen to use the number 1 in 2022 – a perk of winning the title that the reigning World Champion can choose whether or not to avail of.
The last time the number 1 appeared for a full season was in 2014, with Sebastian Vettel using it in the first year of the newly-introduced driver numbers.
Since then, no one has raced with the coveted number. Lewis Hamilton has always stuck with his number 44 in his six title wins since, while Nico Rosberg walked away from F1 two days after winning the 2016 title.
But Verstappen has chosen to race with number 1 in 2022, and appeared for the first time with it on his race car as he took part in a promotional excursion for Red Bull at the 2022 GP Ice Race at Austria's Zell am See.
Swapping number 33 for number 1
Driving a modified 2012 RB8 with studded tyres, Verstappen had plenty of fun drifting around in the ice and snow as part of the promotional event before climbing out with a big smile.
The new World Champion then said he enjoyed driving with the number 1 on his car for the first time, once he realised the moment had happened at the end of the day.
"I didn't even realise it was on the car!" Verstappen commented.
"How many times do you get the opportunity to swap? Number 1 is the best number so, for me, it was very straightforward to pick the number 1.
"I hope, of course, that number 33 doesn't come back next year!"
Verstappen is ready to get back to work
Verstappen has had a largely quiet off-season, spending time at home as well as going on holiday with his girlfriend Kelly Piquet.
He has also taken part in some online endurance racing with his usual outfit Team Redline, but says he is fully back in the mindset of racing as he gears up to defend his crown.
"Just spending time away from racing," he said, when asked about his winter break.
"Having a good time with family and friends and actually just being at home. At this point already, it is [all about] getting ready again for the new season, but not too much of being around the car.
"So far, what I've been doing basically is being at home a lot and working out twice a day, whether that be at home or running outside and, between that, spending time with the family or being on my simulator."
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