Some have described it as pulling rank, others as mind games and others still have put it down to superstition – but whatever the real reason, Michael Schumacher has requested that he be allowed to change car numbers with Mercedes Grand Prix team-mate Nico Rosberg in F1 2010.
As the first of the former Brawn GP outfit's two signings, ex-Williams F1 ace Rosberg initially appeared on the FIA entry list for the season ahead as driving car No.3. When Schumacher subsequently agreed terms shortly before Christmas to complete what is being billed as the greatest comeback in sporting history, the record-breaking seven-time world champion was allocated the hitherto 'TBA' No.4 entry – but according to authoritative German newspaper Bild
, he has now petitioned the governing body to be permitted to swap, arguing that 'Ross [Brawn – team principal] knows that I prefer to have odd race numbers'.
It has been noted that Schumacher has claimed all seven of his F1 Drivers' World Championship crowns to-date with odd-numbered cars – with No.1 in 1995, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004, No. 3 in 2000 and No 5 in 1994. Intriguingly, the No.4 car has never won the title in F1 history, and has indeed achieved just seven victories over the last decade – courtesy of David Coulthard (two), Ralf Schumacher (two), Rubens Barrichello (one), Robert Kubica (one) and Kimi Raikkonen (one).
Moreover, the 41-year-old has only ever begun a single race at the highest level with an even-numbered car, getting behind the wheel of the No.32 Jordan for his Belgian Grand Prix debut at Spa-Francorchamps back in 1991 – and retiring with clutch failure just moments after the starting lights had gone out.
The colour scheme of the first Mercedes Grand Prix car will be unveiled in the three-pointed star's home city of Stuttgart in Germany on Monday (25 January), with Schumacher and Rosberg set to hit the test tracks for the first time at Valencia in Spain just under a week later on 1 February.