At the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen set a new record for the most F1 starts with a single car number. We take a look at the other drivers who’ve raced with the same number more than 100 times.
THE RECORD FOR MOST RACES WITH A SINGLE CAR NUMBER
Kimi Raikkonen currently holds the record for most Formula 1 appearances. He made his 163rd appearance in car number 7 at the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix. He took the record from former Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean, who made 162 appearances in car number 8 during his career. From his 179 Grand Prix starts, Grosjean made only seventeen appearances not in car number 8. All of those were in 2012 when driving for Lotus. That season, he drove in car number 10, as the team had finished fifth in the Constructors’ Championship in the previous season.
Raikkonen chose number 7 as his permanent driver number when the new numbering system was introduced in 2014. He had also raced with that number during his final season with Lotus, in 2013.
DRIVERS WHO STARTED MORE THAN 100 RACES WITH A SINGLE CAR NUMBER
Since drivers began to choose a car number for the entirety of their F1 career – a system which was introduced in 2014 – it has become easier to rack up many appearances with a single number. Current drivers who have made more than 100 appearances with a single number are: Kimi Raikkonen (7), Daniel Ricciardo (3), Sebastian Vettel (5), Valtteri Bottas (77), Sergio Perez (11), Lewis Hamilton (44), Max Verstappen (33) and Carlos Sainz (55). Also in this list are former drivers Nico Hulkenberg (27), Kevin Magnussen (20) and Daniil Kvyat (26).
There are only four drivers who made more than 100 appearances with the same number before the current numbering system was introduced. We take a look at those four drivers below!
#26, Jacques Laffite, 132 appearances
Jacques Laffite was the first driver to record 100 race starts with a single number. He raced in car number 26 for the 100th time at the 1982 Canadian Grand Prix. The number was assigned to Ligier; the team with whom Laffite made the majority of his F1 starts. He made his 132nd and final entry in car number 26 at the 1986 British Grand Prix. His record tally of starts with a single number was broken by Romain Grosjean at the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix, on his 133rd appearance in car number 8.
#1, Michael Schumacher, 120 appearances
Such was Michael Schumacher’s dominance of Formula 1 in the early 2000s, the German is the only driver to have made more than 100 appearances in car number 1. Except for in very rare circumstances, the number 1 has always been assigned to the reigning World Champion. Schumacher made 120 appearances with the number 1 on his car – 43 more than any other driver. Schumacher made his 100th outing in car number 1 at the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix.
#28, Gerhard Berger, 113 appearances
Between 1987 and 1995, 1991 and 1992 were the only years in which Gerhard Berger did not race with the number 28 on his car. Berger racked up his 100th appearance in car number 28 at the 1995 Spanish Grand Prix, and would make thirteen more outings in the car before the end of the 1995 season.
#6, Riccardo Patrese, 111 appearances
Riccardo Patrese was the second driver to notch up 100 starts with a single car number. The Italian first appeared in car number 6 at the 1983 Brazilian Grand Prix, on his first outing with the Brabham team. Patrese returned to number 6 in his first full season with Williams in 1988 – a number with which he made all of his subsequent appearances until his retirement from the sport at the end of 1993.
After graduating in 2015 with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Literature, Nicky Haldenby, a lifelong fan of Formula 1, founded the Lights Out F1 Blog in 2016. The blog has become a firm fan-favourite, delving deep into the sport’s history books and lifting the cover on unusual F1 statistics.
Nicky also writes at F1Destinations and Motorsport Guides and can be heard as the resident stats man on the 2 Soft Compounds Podcast. His work has appeared on WTF1, BadgerGP, motorsport.com, Sky Sports F1 and BBC Radio 5 Live. Nicky is also the host of the F1 Rewind Podcast.