One is magic number as Verstappen ignores title talk

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Next year's number one? Max Verstappen with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi a Thursday's press conference (AFP/Rudy CAREZZEVOLI)

Max Verstappen is refusing to dream of being world champion, but on Thursday admitted he would love to race next season with number one on his Red Bull car.

The 24-year-old Dutchman has raced with number 33 since starting his Formula One career in 2015 and said he would love to swap numbers because "it's the smart thing to do."

But first, he conceded, he would carry on ignoring talk of the title despite leading the championship by 19 points with four races remaining starting with this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix.

"It's very simple," he said. "To be honest, if you don't think about it, you don't have any dreams or whatever. So I am just really focused.

"A lot of things can happen in four races. We are looking good, but things can change very quickly.

"I said it after the race in Mexico. I've had a bigger lead already in the championship and that disappeared within two races."

If Verstappen ends Mercedes' seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton's reign, he could become the first driver with number one on his car since Sebastian Vettel in 2014.

Hamilton retained his number 44 in preference to taking number one, as champion.

Verstappen said he would "absolutely" change his number if he has the chance.

"How many times to you have the opportunity to drive with number one?" he asked.

"And it's good for merchandise as well -- so it's smart to do that."

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