The world champion has elected not to use #1 in any of his seasons as reigning world champion since F1’s rules were changed for 2014 to allow drivers to pick their own race numbers.
However, Hamilton received special dispensation to replace the #44 on the front of his car with #1 in Abu Dhabi, which he used in FP1 before switching back to his original number for the second session.
“I personally don’t like it, I don’t like it at all,” said Hamilton on Friday evening. “It was just for one session, it doesn’t really mean anything.
“The reason I did it is because I’ve been here for six years and since we’ve been world champions [in 2014, ’15, ‘17’, ‘18] we’ve never had the number one on the car and I thought it would just be cool.
“I remember when McLaren had number one when Jenson [Button] won the world title and he moved [from Brawn] and brought it with him.
“It’s strange that McLaren could then have number one – the next team can, wherever you go.”
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-25
Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images
Hamilton said part of his motivation for using the number as a one-off was for his Mercedes team members.
“I remember the engineers, or the mechanics, asking me at one stage would I ever do it,” he added.
“I thought it would be cool to just have it on the car for one session so at least they will have a picture somewhere that they can be really proud of that we were number one.
“44 is my special number, and in actual fact everyone in the team or on my car particularly were saying to me that when they are travelling they’ll see a bus number 44 and then they will see a flight or a seat number 44.
“It’s becoming part of their lives, which is great because that’s exactly how it is with me.”