Formula 1: Which new numbers will F1 see in 2021?

Marcus Ericsson, Alfa Romeo Sauber, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Marcus Ericsson, Alfa Romeo Sauber, Formula 1 (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) /

With three rookie drivers and one returning from retirement, Formula 1 is set to see four new numbers in the upcoming 2021 season.

The 2021 Formula 1 season is set to see three rookie drivers as well as a two-time world champion returning from his post-2018 retirement, meaning that the sport is set to see four new numbers that it did not see throughout the 2020 season.

Haas hired rookies Mick Schumacher, the 2020 Formula 2 champion, and Nikita Mazepin to replace Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, while AlphaTauri hired rookie Yuki Tsunoda to replace Daniil Kvyat.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso is set to return to the sport with the newly rebranded Alpine team, formerly known as Renault, as the replacement for Daniel Ricciardo.

Ricciardo is set to replace the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz Jr. at McLaren, while Sainz is set to replace four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel is set to replace the Red Bull-bound Sergio Perez at Aston Martin, while Perez is set to replace Alexander Albon.

Now back to Formula 1’s numbering system.

Formula 1’s numbering system is relatively new. Here’s a quick overview.

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The current system began at the start of the 2014 season, when drivers were required to choose an available number before competing. This applied to not only new drivers but drivers who had been competing prior to the 2014 season as well.

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The number 1 is reserved for the reigning champion, and any driver must have been out of the sport for two full seasons before another driver takes over his number. So what numbers will be used by Schumacher, Mazepin, Tsunoda and Alonso?

Scuhmacher is set to use the number 47, which had never previously been taken. But Mazepin is set to use the number 9. This number was used before, but he can use it because of the fact that it hasn’t been used since 2018. Marcus Ericsson used it from 2014 to 2018.

Tsunoda is also set to use a number which has previously been used, and that number is 22. That number was technically available for the 2020 season, since it hadn’t been used since 2017. Jenson Button used it from 2014 to 2016 and then again in his relief appearance for Alonso in the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix when Alonso competed in the Indy 500.

As for Alonso, he is set to return to Formula 1 using his own number 14. That number hasn’t been available for anybody else until now since he last competed in 2018, so it remains his.

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway on Sunday, March 28 with the Bahrain Grand Prix at Bahrain International Circuit, as the original season-opening Australian Grand Prix, which was scheduled for this past Sunday, March 21 at Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit, was postponed to Sunday, November 21 as a result of coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions in Melbourne, Australia.