Formula 1 - FIA kicks off driver number process

The FIA has contacted Formula 1 drivers to select the permanent race numbers they will carry from next year.

AUTOSPORT understands that the FIA has requested all drivers to nominate their preferred number, along with a second and third choice, to be lodged before Christmas.

This will allow the numbers, which will be carried by drivers for the rest of their grand prix careers and will range from 2-99 with number one reserved for the world champion, to be allocated at the start of next year

Although Article 19.1 of the sporting regulations as published suggests that a random ballot would be used to allocate the numbers, FIA media delegate Matteo Bonciani has confirmed to AUTOSPORT that the method originally announced on Monday would be used.

This involved each driver having their choice based on championship order, meaning that if two or more drivers request the same number, the one placed higher in the 2013 standings will be granted it.

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The FIA is also keen to ensure that the choice of number is made by the driver, rather than the team that employs him, which is why they are being contacted directly.

The regulation states: "Prior to the start of the 2014 World Championship season race numbers will be permanently allocated to drivers by ballot, such numbers must then be used by that driver during every Formula 1 championship event he takes part in throughout his career."

"Any new drivers, either at the start of or during a season, will also be allocated a permanent number in the same way.

"The only exception to this allocation process will be for the reigning world champion who will have the option to use the number one.

"The number that was previously allocated to him will be reserved for him in subsequent seasons if he does not retain the title of world champion."

Few drivers have as yet commented on their preferred numbers, although at an event for IWC watches Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg stated that he has requested six, five and nine in that order of preference - six being the number father Keke carried to the 1982 world championship.

Force India's Sergio Perez said his first choice will be #11, which he carried in karting and in his first season in GP2.

The sporting regulations have also been modified to ensure that number visibility is improved.

Drivers will now have to carry the race number not only on the front of the car in a way that must be "clearly visible" but also on their crash helmet for the first time.