F1 champion Verstappen hopes #33 doesn’t return as he debuts #1

Max Verstappen donned his new #1 on his helmet and car for the first time since becoming Formula 1 world champion during a Red Bull show run in Austria. 
F1 champion Verstappen hopes #33 doesn’t return as he debuts #1

Earlier this week, the Dutchman raced against ice speedway legend Franky Zorn on the Austrian slopes in Red Bull’s championship-winning 2012 RB8 car, which was fitted with specially designed Pirelli spiked tyres for the event. 

It marked the first time Verstappen has used the #1 since confirming he would swap his permanent #33 for the number reserved exclusively for the world champion for his title defence in 2022. 

Verstappen will be the first driver to sport the #1 since Sebastian Vettel ran it during his final season with Red Bull in 2014. 

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton has elected to stick with his personal #44, while the only other world champion in the V6 hybrid era, Nico Rosberg, retired immediately after winning the title in 2016. 

"How many times do you get the opportunity to swap?,” Verstappen said after his show run. “Number 1 is the best number out there so, for me, it was very straightforward to pick the number 1.

“Hopefully, of course, that number 33 doesn't come back next year!”

Verstappen pipped Hamilton to clinch his maiden world title in controversial circumstances at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which concluded an epic season-long battle for supremacy between the two drivers. 

The 24-year-old will get his first taste of the car he hopes will take him to a second successive world championship when F1 pre-season testing begins in Barcelona on February 23-25. 

"It looks a bit different, but at the end of the day it's still a Formula 1 car," Verstappen added. 

"At testing we can do a lot of laps and get a lot of information about the car, which is important. I'm looking forward to it."

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