F1 Winter Break
What’s in a number?
What’s in a number?
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jan 2010   |  8:07 pm GMT  |  212 comments

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.

Picture 17
“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.

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James, found this on PlanetF1, allegedly an extract from Michael’s personal blog…

“My prickle is already coming after the false alarm with Felipe and so I was more than fully motivated for a return. My batteries were loaded and I was ready to fire them. Quite honestly and obviously my biggest problem was not my neck or the worry to be the old gunslinger in town waiting on the street corner to be gunned down by the young guns, no. It was the people I would disappoint in moving to a different team. How would my beloved tifosis react? What would Luca and Stefano say? And would Jenson mind being my No.2 at Mercedes?”

That last line’s a bit telling…so even before Jenson went to McLaren, and was assumed to still be a Merc driver for 2010, Michael was worried about how he’d feel being his No. 2

Presumably Michael has exactly same assumption now, and it’s just Nico in the other car as his ‘No. 2’. What’s your take on this James?


SteveB, haha, that’s a spoof! From planetf1’s “Michael Schumacher’s Sekret Tagebuch-Blog”.

On his real website, Schumacher does say, rather memorably, among other things:

“… I really notice how the prickle is coming, how motivated I am because I so much look forward to this competition. It is about time to start this whole thing.”


Well I’ve not looked into it, but it doesn’t sound like the kind of thing he’d write or even say. I’ll speak to Sabine Kehm, his assistant, about it


I think people are reading too much into this. Big Norbert Haug has played down the issue too. Granted he would, but he would know if there was any discontent in the Mercedes camp. I’m not Schumacher’s biggest fan, but here he’s asked Rosberg if he can have the number and Nico said yes! Plus Mercedes have given Rosberg the nod to drive the the first laps in Valencia.


People are backing the wrong horse here as well. I think Rosberg will out-qualify and out-race Schumacher this year.

No launch or traction control for Michael this season! :o)


Although Nico Rosberg does appear to be getting the short end of the stick, it is important that he does not let this distract him. The way I see it, this kind of mind games will either destroy Rosberg or embolden him.

Take Felipe Massa for instance! He used his short time as Schumacher’s team mate as a positive, and grew in standing because of it. Rosberg has a great yardstick with which to guage his career, going up against the most decorated driver in series history. He has to knuckle down, keep his thoughts to himself, and drum out the results. If he gets beat, so be it, as long as he is competitive and scores points, people will take notice.


In past years didn’t Schumacher’s helmet have some Chinese characters on it for the names of his family members? If he still uses those, it would be rather insensitive and even disrespectful to his Chinese fans to be associated with the number ‘4’ which is so inauspicious.

I think it is a tremendous opportunity for Rosberg to learn a lot quickly from Schumacher and from his relationship with Brawn. Since testing is so restricted everybody’s work will count and Rosberg will be pushed to a higher level very quickly.


This is what happens when F1 takes too long a break, we start talking about car numbers instead of lap times, wins and outright performance…


I think the most exciting thing is that after last season, Rosberg looked like a driver with a tremendous upside. He was all set to get his chance to race in a top car. He already had a point to prove. Now I suspect he’s really looking to prove a point with Schumacher coming back to F1. The number situation probably just adds a little extra spice.



so because I had a typo on my response (iPhone autospell) I can’t be a genuine fan? Rubbish.

Please forgive me I’m not worthy.


It was very clear on the Brawns last year and on the previous two Hondas. Little advertising on those cars but those numbers on the rear wing endplates of the 2007 Honda were huge. Bring them back


Well you had better be quick Michael …….. because Nico is laid back and quick …. and just might make you look ………. old ?


I`m just curious. What is # on car that won most World Driver Championships in history? In 2005. Alonso had #5 on his car as did Schumacher in 1994, and Mansel in 1992. Last year Button had #22 as did Lewis in 2008. Senna had #12 in 1988. and Kimi had #6 on his car in 2007. But I’m wondering which number is from point of statistics most lucky one?


If Rosberg doesn’t want to be thought of as a number 2 then he can quite easily rectify the situation. All he has to do is simply beat Michael Schumacher. won’t really matter what numbers are are on the car after that.


I think a lot of people need to take a step back and take a wider view of this situation. I think Massa benefited from the partnership even if Rubens didn’t, Michael agreed to come back to a Dog of a Car out of his friendship with Massa (so he said), I do agree that this situation can make or break Nico, I think Schumacher has matured into a good person, and even Murray Walker in an interview spoke of Schumacher as being a “cracking bloke” and a “Top bloke.” I think that unless Nico has a personality problem he will gain from this relationship and come out a better driver, in fact i can see a relationship building up where Schumacher will guide him like a older brother, unless Nico’s Dad throws a spanner in the works.

Schumacher maybe considered borderline evil on the race track, but would any true racer be any different? I wouldnt.


that’s numberwang !


I read this story in the paper on the train this mornig and had a little chuckle to myself! Same old michael, anything to get an edge. Shows he hasn’t lost his competitive streak.

I remember when he did a similar thing at the Race of Champions a year ago. He wanted the car that the other driver (I forget which)had won the last race in, even though the two cars were the same models!


Operation barbarossa has started.

And the father of the bride, must be thinking, the plan was perfect, trying to give him a shot at the championship, and then this german shows up out of the blue.

Is also a form of retaliation, for all the comments keke made about the parking-gate.


Nico seems a nice chap and he may not care too much about numbers. So he let the older guy get his number he wanted and keep a nice relationship.

Anybody though that it could be that simple?

Anyway, if Button stayed at Merc, Nico would have been n.2. If Kimi was going instead, Nico would still have been n.2. Finally Michael Schumacher showed up, what anybody would expect Nico to be?

Probably even Nico did not expect anything but being n.2 or just not being n.1, when he joined the team. He is not that he won races or championships since he boarded on the Formula 1 club? Or am I missing something?

nothing changed for him.


When will F1/FIA realise that whilst there are a lot of Schumacher fans they are alienating the rest of us.

I thought Kimi already tried this last year and was turned down (by massa?) More fool Rosberg if he actually had a say in this.


Sounds like the good old days of Michael to me.

I feel sorry for Rosberg and I hope his career isn’t ruined by this. We all know his dad told him not to go to McLaren because he feared he wouldn’t thrive against Lewis – how must they be feeling now against Schumi?


There might not be a definitive answer for this…

When a new guy steps up to F1 is there a particular area that they find difficult when driving the car? ie, do they struggle to brake as well as an experienced driver at first?

Is a new guy (a decent one) normally on the pace right away, or do they tend to be off?

Rossi was three seconds slower than Kimi’s lap record. No good right?

Do you expect Schumi to be right on the pace right away or is it going to take him time to make up for his three years of gardening?


… oh come’on, Rosberg will present the car AND have the first test drive.

So, it’ll be 2-1 in favour of Rosberg?

These mind games are just plain silly. Of course there’s something special between Michael & Ross. It adds to the magic of Michaels return. But they have to provide Rossberg with the same equipment if they want to win both championships.

Rossberg is not in the same league of Hamilton, Alonso and Schumacher. He is a close match to Button and Webber though.


It’s funny how the media is able to stir up such big emotions with such a meaningless thing. You can see already that nothing will be new under the Sun on their part either: every move Schumacher does (no matter how meaningless that is) will be looked at with suspicion.

It’s not like the number is the indication of who will be favoured, if anybody will at all. Häkkinen and Alonso got favoured by McLaren and Renault despite of having the higher Nr (8) on their cars in 1998 and 2005, respectively.

I don’t even think it’s a psychological warfare on Schumacher’s part, just like I don’t think it will have any psycholoical effect on Nico. But the media likes to stir it as usual, and many people go along with that, as usual.


The number 4 is considered as being very inauspicious – for example, by the Japanese:


“The number four is considered inauspicious because it is pronounced the same as the word for death (shi). Therefore, one should not make presents that consist of four pieces, etc. In some hotels and hospitals the room number four is skipped.”


Who knows, if Rosberg does an ‘Alonso V Hamilton’ on Schu, then Nico (and his dad) will have the last laugh.

Seriously, I really liked Michael on his first carrier, but I think he’s about to get a nasty surprise.


Can’t see it myself, but it might be worth a tenner at the bookies. You just never know.


I read somewhere on a F1 site that No 4 is the unluckiest number in F1 and is one of 4 numbers to never have figured in any wins/championship stuff. ‘Micky Shu’ will know this & will have consigned this monkey to Nico’s back.

I hope he therefore comes second in the 2010 championship so we can think of his return as a great big No2.


Kimi won in Spa last year with Number 4


Since 1973, when drivers were given numbers for the entire season, nobody has started as No4 and won the championship, that’s what Shuey knows and doesn’t want to be in that bag.


and look what happened to him! – only joking


If Nico is smart he will let all this wash over him. Why upset yourself over a number. If interviewed say that it is silly to get hung up over numerology.

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