Mercedes’ George Russell reveals family ties behind F1 race number

Henry Valantine
George Russell rounds the Vale chicane during Friday practice at the British Grand Prix, Silverstone, July 2023.

George Russell rounds the Vale chicane during Friday practice at the British Grand Prix, Silverstone, July 2023.

Every driver has a reason behind their race number in Formula 1, and George Russell has revealed that his has something to do with his brother.

And like many younger siblings in a family, hand-me-downs are far from uncommon, and with Russell coming from a racing background, it turns out that extends to his racing number.

His older brother Benjy was also involved in karting himself and used the number 63, so the now-Mercedes driver took that as his own when he got involved in motorsport.

George Russell reveals the origin of his number 63


Russell was able to get his first choice of number when he graduated to Williams as Formula 2 champion, and will hold onto the number 63 for his whole Formula 1 career – and he explained why it is that he has it on the nose of his cars.

“Well, I am number 63 because that was the number my brother used to race with when he was in go karting,” he said in a Q&A video released by Mercedes.

“When he started, that was the number that was assigned to him and has been a family number ever since. So, [it’s] in the family.” recommends

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How are Formula 1 driver numbers decided?

Formula 1 drivers enter the sport and are allowed to choose one permanent number that is available between 2 and 99, with previously-used numbers held in reserve for two years for drivers no longer on the grid, and number 1 reserved for the reigning World Champion alone.

This rule has been in place since 2014 to allow drivers the chance to add a personal touch to their racing cars, with numbers having previously been allocated with the team containing the Drivers’ Champion taking the number 1 and 2 car, and the numbers following in descending order based on the Constructors’ Championship of the year before.

The reasons drivers choose numbers vary, with most opting to keep the numbers they had during their karting days, while Jenson Button chose 22 as that was his race number for his title-winning year in 2009, and Kimi Raikkonen picked 7 simply as that was his number while racing at Lotus the year before, in true Kimi style.

Max Verstappen opts to race with the number 1 on his car as the reigning World Champion, but Hamilton cited his personal attachment to the number 44 when he turned down the opportunity to change in his title-winning years.

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