At the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas overtook Daniel Ricciardo’s 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
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas currently share the record for most Formula 1 appearances with a single car number. They overtook Daniel Ricciardo’s former record at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. As of the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix, they’ve started 189 races each in their respective car numbers.
Ricciardo made his 182nd appearance in car number 3 on his last outing at the 2022 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Ricciardo took the record from Kimi Raikkonen at the 2022 Singapore Grand Prix, who had held the record since taking it from former team-mate Romain Grosjean at the 2021 Styrian Grand Prix.
With Ricciardo not on the grid in 2023, his record has been overtaken by three drivers during the 2023 season. The aforementioned Bottas and Hamilton surpassed Ricciardo’s record at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, while Sergio Perez surpassed Ricciardo’s tally at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Carlos Sainz will also move ahead of Ricciardo later in the year at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
With Daniel Ricciardo not on the grid, the 2023 Bahrain Grand Prix was the first F1 race in almost 40 years which no driver entered in car number 3.
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: Valtteri Bottas (77), Lewis Hamilton (44), Sergio Perez (11), Carlos Sainz (55), Kevin Magnussen (20), Max Verstappen (33), Fernando Alonso (14), Nico Hulkenberg (27), Lance Stroll (18), Esteban Ocon (31), Pierre Gasly (10) and Charles Leclerc (16).
Also in this list are former drivers Daniel Ricciardo (3), Sebastian Vettel (5), Kimi Raikkonen (7), Romain Grosjean (8) and Daniil Kvyat (26). Lando Norris and George Russell will join the list later on in the 2023 season, when they make their 100th Grand Prix starts.
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.