Lewis Hamilton says he will keep his number 44 despite having the option to return to the #1 plate as reigning Formula 1 world champion as he doesn’t want to lose the personal and brand connection to his race number.

The four-time F1 world champion ran the #1 plate in 2009 after winning his maiden title the year before but since the introduction of personalised numbers in 2014 Hamilton has consistently stuck with #44.

While tempted by the iconic #1 as a defending F1 champion, the Mercedes driver is keen to retain his affiliation to the #44 as he sees it as the number which “will stay with me forever.”

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“I don’t plan on changing it, number 44 is family,” Hamilton said. “It’s really weird and I guess everyone gets a lucky number at some stage, but we chose that, my dad chose that number when I was young.

“There is a picture of me with 43 on my car when I was in cadets because some other kid stole my number and I had to be 43, but that wasn’t really my number, it was one picture they got. I think that was the weekend Mark Blundell had been there to hand out trophies and it was the first time I met a Formula One driver.

“I think I will only use 44. You know you could fit the number 1 within the 44 but I don’t really like the number itself. People had it in the past, Michael [Schumacher] had it, but no one’s had 44 except me.

“It’s been a good number for me since I started. I think it’s the number my fans recognise and can relate to more. The number 1 is good for a moment but you can’t live with it forever. Whereas 44 will stay with me forever.”

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Until he retires, then someone else can use it.

It's what they always do in MotoGP, keep their own number instead of taking the option of having number 1.

Can't say that I understand it myself, having 1 on your car/bike is much more special than some 'brand'  bs imo. Stoner had the right idea..