Michael Schumacher has swapped his racing number from Four to Three ahead of this season’s world championship. The move was approved by Mercedes, who have had it accepted by the FIA.
“Michael has a preference for odd numbers, ” said a team spokesman. “He asked if he could be the odd number and we were happy to accept.”
Nothing particularly odd about that, one might say. It’s simply a case of Schumacher being superstitious about racing with odd numbers on his car. He did it throughout his Benetton and Ferrari careers.
“Ross [Brawn] knows that I like odd numbers,” Schumacher is quoted as saying.
Three is an immensely significant number for Schumacher for good and bad reasons; he was carrying number three on his car when he had the only serious accident of his F1 career, at Silverstone in 1999. And he was carrying it again a year later when he won Ferrari’s first world championship for 21 years, still what he considers to be the high point of his career.
Schumacher is known for his superstitions. He liked to carry a toy hairbrush his daughter gave him in his overalls pocket and he also had an amulet from his wife he liked to carry. Other drivers have had their superstitions too; for much of his early F1 career David Couthard had a pair of lucky underpants he wore – until they wore out.
In today’s coverage of this story there is no word from Nico Rosberg, who was originally down to race car number three and who is now in car four. There is no quote from him saying that it’s no big deal.
There is no implicit suggestion in this that Schumacher has now become team leader. The only identification of a ‘lead car’ from a team arises in conjunction with the colour coding for the onboard cameras in F1 – the lead car carries an orange camera, the second car a yellow one. In FIA and FOM identification terms therefore, Schumacher’s is the lead car of the Mercedes team.
Is there anything we can take away from this episode? Only that Rosberg has made way for Schumacher’s request. Read into that what you will.