2020 Williams new-boy Nicholas Latifi has chosen the #6 (six) – the number he raced last year in F2 – as his race number for the season ahead, and for the duration of what he hopes is a lengthy Formula 1 career.
Number six was last used in Formula 1 by ex-Williams driver Nico Rosberg in his 2016 title winning campaign at Mercedes, having been chosen by the German when driver numbers were introduced in 2014.
When Rosberg retired from the sport at the end of the same season, it too went into a state of semi-retirement.
Formula 1 rules state that once a driver is away from the sport for two full years then his number is up for grabs, and if he returns then he must do so with a different number.
While Rosberg chose the number as it was his father’s number in his championship winning year of 1982 (another Williams connection), Latifi’s motives are more geographical than sentimental.
Apparently Toronto is known as ‘the six’ on account of its area codes being 416 or 647 (a bit lame if you ask me!), and in choosing #6, Toronto native Latifi is acknowledging this.
#6 and Williams
Latifi is the latest in a long line of Williams drivers who have raced with the number six.
Keke Rosberg was the first in 1982, the year he won his first and Williams’ second drivers’ championship, and following a season being #1 and #2 – one of the rewards for winning the title – the team reverted back to 5 and 6 for 1984, where Keke again picked up car number six.
Roberg left Williams in 1986 where the ‘6aton’ (see what I did there??) was handed to Nelson Piquet, who won the title in 1987 but promptly jumped ship to Lotus taking his #1 with him, leaving Williams to continue as they were, numerically speaking, with Riccardo Patrese taking #six, which he kept until leaving at the end of 1992.
In 1999 the lesser Schumacher, Ralf, joined Williams, and back came the #6 after a couple of years on loan elsewhere.
It resurfaced at Williams again in 2003 with Juan Pablo Montoya, who kept it for a couple of years.
It bounced around a little after that, never troubling Williams by virtue of the fact that they were, by now, towards the tail end of the order and numbers were largely handed out in order, based on championship position, until Rosberg made it his own in 2014.
Now it finds itself back at Williams, its spiritual home, and we can only hope it helps Latifi to some of the success enjoyed by its predecessors.
(And if you think that was a ridiculous blog post, there are plenty more where that came from!)