Max Verstappen to make change to Red Bull car if he beats Lewis Hamilton to world title

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Red Bull star Max Verstappen will change his race number from 33 to 1 if he beats Lewis Hamilton and wins a maiden world championship in 2021. The reigning world champion can use their allocated number or number 1 during the year after their title win, and it was most recently donned by Sebastian Vettel in 2014 after his fourth successive championship with Red Bull. 

Hamilton opted to keep his permanent number 44 after his title wins in 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, and with Nico Rosberg retiring after his sole championship win in 2016.

Verstappen brilliantly overtook Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Hamilton on the first corner of the Mexican Grand Prix on Sunday before holding on to take the chequered flag. 

It has extended his lead atop the Drivers’ Championship – and the Dutchman would love to rep the number.

“Absolutely,” he replied when asked today if he would drop his number 33 for the world champion’s number, should he win the title.

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“How many times do you have the opportunity to drive with number 1?

“And it’s good for merchandise as well, you know? So, it’s smart to do that.”

Verstappen is not taking anything for granted after falling victim to Hamilton’s domination since the Dutch prodigy burst onto the scene in 2016. 

He is therefore enjoying the experience of competing for the championship in what has been one of the most exciting seasons in recent F1 history.

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“How many times do you have this opportunity?” Verstappen continued. 

“You don’t know. Maybe from next year you don’t get that opportunity again. So, I’m just really enjoying the moment.

“I’m just really focused. In four races a lot of things can happen. We are looking good now, but things can change very quickly.

“I said after the race in Mexico, I’ve had a bigger lead already in the championship but that disappeared within two race weekends, so we have to again try to do the best we can here and again we will try to win the race.”

The Dutchman admitted that while 2021 has been a good season, he is never happy and is always looking to improve. 

He is hoping to continue his fine form at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday after winning the race in 2019 and securing spots on the podium in 2016 and 2018.

“It’s been quite good to us in the past,” Verstappen added, “so I’m looking forward to being here again. Of course, a lot has changed from 2019 but I do think we can do a good job.

“There are not many corners around here but, of course, with the altitude still being a bit high, that is normally good for us.

“If you look back at ’19 it was quite a tough battle with Lewis anyway, so I expect the same again.”

Formula 1 returns to the Interlagos in Sao Paulo for the Brazilian Grand Prix on November 14, with Verstappen holding a 19-point lead over Hamilton.

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