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Why Verstappen plans to use number 1 on his car, but Hamilton decided not to

Max Verstappen intends to celebrate his 2021 title win by running number 1 on his car during the upcoming F1 season, something Lewis Hamilton opted against in recent years. But why are their views opposed on the matter?

Max Verstappen is set to use number 1 on his Red Bull in 2022, having earned the right to make the switch after winning his maiden F1 World Championship – something Lewis Hamilton has passed up on several occasions. Under a new rule introduced in 2014, the title winner can choose to race with number 1 the following season or stick with their own otherwise permanent number (33 in the case of Verstappen and 44 for Hamilton). Hamilton ran number 1 on his car once, in 2009, when numbers were allocated based on the previous year's championship standings, but did not make the switch after winning the crown in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Verstappen: "It's the best number out there!"

Speaking to media, including RacingNews365.com , after securing his maiden F1 title at last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Verstappen explained that being able to run number 1 was simply too good an opportunity to pass up. "How many times can you do that?" Verstappen pondered as he soaked up the moment. "I mean, I don't know. Maybe it's the only time I can in my life. I think it's the best number out there, so I will put it on the car!" In an earlier interview, the Dutchman laughed: "It's good for merchandise as well, so it's smart to do that." As of the latest 2022 F1 entry list, however, Verstappen is yet to officially move from number 33 to 1.

Hamilton: "I don't consider myself the champion"

Hamilton was asked the same question ahead of the title decider in Abu Dhabi, where he explained that there is some competitive thinking behind his choice to stick with 44, which has become synonymous with the Briton and his brand. "I don't consider myself the champion that year; I consider myself the one that's fighting for a championship," Hamilton stated. Hamilton added that he has always focused on each year individually, rather than counting up his titles. "I don't look at it as a multiple; I always look at every season and every year, as you start from ground zero and you're fighting," he said. "You're the hunter and you're fighting from the moment you start training, the moment you get into the new year, and you're focused on winning."

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