Since 2014, drivers in Formula 1 have been allowed to choose their race number, as long as it is not already used by someone else in the same class. The number then remains fixed unless the driver becomes world champion. This year, for example, Max Verstappen swapped his iconic number 33 for number 1 to signal his new status as world champion.
Long history with number 81
So now that Piastri will make his debut next year, he must also choose his number. The Australian has chosen number 81, a number he already has quite a history with. In the podcast, he explains: "81 was the number I used while karting. When I first had to choose a number, the shop I was in only had number 1 available. I chose number 11 then. But when I registered for the Victoria State Titles, someone else already had number 11, and I switched to 81. That number has stayed with me ever since."
Piastri had to let go of number 81 when he raced in Formula 3 and Formula 2, as there the numbers are handed out to teams based on the previous year's final ranking. So now he gets to choose his own number again, and has gone for his old familiar 81. This race number has only been used twice before in Formula 1. In 1951, Maurice Trintignant used it at the German Grand Prix, and in 1957, Tony Benadies drove under number 81 at the Indianapolis 500, which was still part of the Formula 1 season at the time.