The following regulation talks about the first car of a team. Since the cars carry driver names and numbers, I didn't think that the teams have to officially determine their first cars.

To help distinguish between a team’s two cars, the onboard cameras which sit on top of the main rollover structure are coloured differently. On the first car it must remain as it is supplied to the team (black) and on the second car it must be predominantly fluorescent yellow.

In most cases we can guess which driver is driving the first car, but sometimes this is not so obvious. In addition, I don't see any clear indication about the first car/driver while watching GPs on TV. Maybe the driver on top is the first driver.

So, how do they determine the first car/driver to declare to FIA?

1 Answer 1


There is no hard and fast rule for this as different teams have different opinions about how they treat their drivers.

In general, the most experienced and/or successful driver is given dominance, or the one who is paid the most!

Ferrari is the easiest example to give as they have a definite number 1 and number 2 driver, for the 2018 season Sebastian Vettel had the number 1 role and it is rumoured to be written into his contract. He is a 4 times World Drivers Champion whilst his team-mate Kimi Raikkonen (who is older and driven more races) is "only" a single World Drivers Champion.

Some teams claim not to favour either driver, but even these teams do favour one over the other, ie Mercedes favour Lewis Hamilton over Valterri Bottas, although they will deny this officially. It makes sense though as Hamilton is older, more experienced, more successful and paid more than Bottas.

The situation at Red Bull was interesting last season as you would expect them to favour Ricciardo as he had been most successful, experienced etc but they seem to arguably have favoured Max Verstappen and this contributed to Ricciardo leaving the team. However in Red Bull's case they use their presence in F1 to help promote their product and a younger driver may be beneficial as a marketing tool.

In the "Old days", ie pre 2014 it was easy, whoever had the lowest number was the "lead" driver, nowadays drivers pick their own numbers and stick with them for their entire career.

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