With Daniel Ricciardo not on the 2023 grid, car number 3 will be absent from Formula 1 in 2022. Not having car number 3 on the grid is quite a rare occurrence. Here are the last ten times that car number 3 has not started a Grand Prix!
2023 Bahrain Grand Prix
Daniel Ricciardo will not be present on the grid at the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix, making it the first race in almost 15 years which car number 3 will not start. Since 2014, drivers have chosen a permanent racing number for their F1 career. The number is not available to be used by any other driver until two years have passed since the previous driver’s last race.
As well as being the first time that car number 3 will not start a race since 2009, the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix will also be the first time car number 3 is not entered into a Formula 1 race since the 1984 Portuguese Grand Prix.
2009 Hungarian Grand Prix
Though Ferrari won the 2008 Constructors’ Championship, Lewis Hamilton won the Drivers’ Championship, meaning that the Scuderia were assigned car numbers 3 and 4 in 2009. Felipe Massa raced in car number 3 in 2009 but failed to start the Hungarian Grand Prix that year due to a serious crash in qualifying.
Massa eventually recovered from his injuries, but car number 3 was taken by Luca Badoer and Giancarlo Fisichella for the remaining races of the 2009 season.
2005 United States Grand Prix
The infamous 2005 United States Grand Prix is one of the most recent occasions on which the driver of car number 3 did not start. Jenson Button qualified third in car number 3. However, all Michelin-tyred cars pulled into the pit lane at the end of the formation lap due to tyre failure concerns.
2005 Spanish & Monaco Grands Prix
Prior to the United States Grand Prix, Jenson Button had already missed two races in the 2005 season. BAR were found to have an illegal car at the San Marino Grand Prix and the team was punished by being excluded from the Imola race as well as being banned from the next two races – the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
2001 French Grand Prix
Mika Hakkinen qualified fourth in car number 3 at the 2001 French Grand Prix. However, he failed to make it away from the grid at the start of the formation lap due to an incorrectly fitted gearbox. With his mechanics unable to fix the issue, Hakkinen failed to start the race.
1999 British Grand Prix*
This one has an asterisk as Michael Schumacher did take the first start at the 1999 British Grand Prix but he did not take the second start following the red flag period. Due to the wording of the regulations, despite making the first start, Schumacher is classed as a Did Not Start in the official classification.
At the first start, two stalled cars on the grid led to the race being red flagged. Unaware that the red flag was about to be shown, Schumacher attempted an overtake on his team-mate into Stowe but locked up and continued straight into the tyre barriers. Schumacher suffered a broken leg in the impact and missed the next six races as a result.
1990 Portuguese Grand Prix
Aside from the 1999 British Grand Prix, there was only one other race at which car number 3 did not start during the 1990s. The race in question is the 1990 Portuguese Grand Prix. Racing with Tyrrell, Satoru Nakajima qualified in 20th place for the race at Estoril but withdrew on Sunday morning. He crashed in the warm up session, having suffered with the flu throughout the race weekend.
1989 Australian Grand Prix
The 1989 Australian Grand Prix is the most recent race at which the driver of car number 3 failed to qualify. Jonathan Palmer, driving with Tyrrell, missed out on one of the 26 starting places by qualifying 27th. He missed out on the grid by just 0.037 seconds.
1988 Italian Grand Prix
Once again, it was Jonathan Palmer who narrowly missed out on a spot on the grid in car number 3 at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix. He qualified 27th – just over a tenth slower than team-mate Julian Bailey in 26th place.
1988 Mexican Grand Prix
Jonathan Palmer missed out on a spot on the grid once more at the 1988 Mexican Grand Prix, once again qualifying in 27th place.
The last F1 race car number 3 did not enter
The 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix will be the first race since the 1984 Portuguese Grand Prix that car number 3 has not been entered into an F1 race. In 1984, the Tyrrell team had been found to be breaking the rules surrounding fuel and minimum car weights.
The team were disqualified from the entire season as a result. They appealed the decision but the FIA Court of Appeal upheld the ruling and the team were subsequently banned from the final three races of the year.
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.