Nissan driver Norman Nato has chosen to race the number 17 when he returns to Formula E next year as a tribute to Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who died seven years ago.
Bianchi He suffered severe head injuries in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix and died nine months later.
He raced with the number earlier in his career but during his rookie FE campaign with Venturi in 2021 he had the number 71 on his car, as Nick de Vries used the 17. He will now use his chosen number for the second season. series, as de Vries leaves FE for Formula 1.
In a social media post, Nato said: “I am happy and proud to compete under the number 17 in FIA Formula E.”
“This number means a lot to me. I started in karting and won championships with 17. Jules also raced in F1 with this number, which makes it even more special for me. I can’t wait to get started.”
The FIA allowed F1 drivers to choose a permanent works number for the first time in 2014. Normally, if a driver’s number has not been used for two consecutive seasons, it is released to another competitor. However, in the days following Bianchi’s death, the FIA announced that the number had been retired from use in F1.
Number 17 was Bianchi’s fourth choice. He expressed preference for the numbers seven, 27 and 77 taken by Kim Raikkonen, Nico Hulkenberg and Valtteri Bottas respectively.
Bianchi’s father, Philippe, has indicated that he supports Neto’s decision.
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