A NUMBERS GAME: Lewis Hamilton wants to eschew his No.1 title in favour of retaining his No.44 badge from 2015. Image: AP/ Luca Bruno
LONDON, England - Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, 2014 Formula 1 Drivers' champion, wants to keep his personal race number 44 in 2015 rather than switch to the traditional single-digit 1.
Hamilton secured his second Drivers' title when he won Sunday's season-ending 2014 Abu Dhabi GP.
A change early in 2014, mimicking the system in MotoGP, meant drivers could pick their own race number from 2 through to 99 then keep it for rest of their F1 career.
'44 IS MY NUMBER'
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel, having run the number 1 throughout the 2014 season, will now revert to his chosen number 5 when he joins Ferrari for the 2015 race season. Mercedes' Hamilton has run 44, and even has the number tattooed behind his right ear.
Hamilton said: "44 is my number. I won my first championship with 44 in karting so I'll ask the team if I can keep it on my car now. Whether the 1 is on my car or not is not important to me."
British media reports that Hamilton is close to securing a new R330-million per season deal that could keep him at with Mercedes until 2020.
Already with a contract for 2015, the dotted line may go unsigned until he has appointed a new management team in the coming months, but he told reporters on Monday that the 2016 contract was "a formality".
WOLFF NOT READY?
Hamilton said: "I haven't made any decision of how you go about it but I have a great contract. Ultimately I think not a huge amount will change."
On Monday (Nov 24) it also seemed as though team boss Toto Wolff was not ready to negotiate the new deal anyway, having partied deep into Sunday night (Nov 23).
Wolff said: "Definitely for me it (negotiate a contract) would not be the best thing for me to do."