Newly-announced Alfa Romeo Sauber Formula 1 driver Charles Leclerc has revealed his 2018 race number of 16 was his third choice.
F2 champion Leclerc will make his grand prix debut next season with Sauber, having recently been chosen as one of the Swiss squad’s two drivers alongside Marcus Ericsson.
The launch of the Alfa Romeo livery concept last weekend hinted that Leclerc had chosen 16 as his permanent race number, which was subsequently confirmed by the team.
Speaking at the FIA Prize Giving at Versailles on Friday evening, Leclerc revealed that 16 was in fact his third option, with his first two choices already belonging to Kimi Raikkonen and Pierre Gasly.
“I wanted number seven first, but Kimi had it, then I choose 10 but Pierre came to F1 and chose number 10,” explained Leclerc, who earned FIA's Rookie of the Year award.
“Then I wanted 16 because it’s my date of birth and I could not find anything better. And one plus six is seven, my favourite number."
Asked what a realistic target for his debut F1 season could be, Leclerc said it would be impossible to judge until the first pre-season test at Barcelona next February.
“Expectations in F1, it’s quite hard to make them before you actually put the car on the track and see what it’s really worth,” he said.
“In junior categories you can target something, expect something, but in F1 it’s a lot harder because the differences between cars are a lot bigger.
“The new power unit should be a big step. Hopefully we can do a step also with the car, but then it also depends how big the step of the other teams is. This we’ll have to see.”