The numbers game
March 23, 2011 by joesaward
The word on the rues of Paris at the moment is that the FIA may be planning an interesting new tweak for Formula 1, with teams being sold their numbers, rather than being allotted them, based on their position in the World Championship in the previous season. This makes a lot of sense for a number of different reasons. Firstly, it will give the fans and TV viewers an easier job of identifying cars, as the numbers will take on more relevance in terms of marketing and thus be given a bigger space on the car. In the United States of America a sportsman’s number is used as part of the marketing around the athlete: one thinks of obvious examples, such as Richard Petty’s 43, Dale Earnhardt Sr’s number 3, and more recently Jimmie Johnson’s 48.
The ownership of these numbers is clear enough: the FIA publishes the numbers and thus can decide upon the system of distribution. NASCAR owns and assigns car numbers to a car owner and reserves the right to revoke or transfer car numbers to another owner/team at any time. Car numbers are non-assignable and non-transferable, except by NASCAR and they are rumoured to cost around $125,000 apiece. That would means that the sale of 22 F1 car numbers would present a serious source of income for the federation.