F1 suffers from triskaidekaphobia. That is, for all you non-triskaidekaphobes out there, an irrational fear of the number 13.

In a sport that relies as heavily on technology and science as Formula One it seems a little crazy that the number is not used. Of course, in a sport where you face serious injury and death, superstition is naturally rife, but it irks some of us that no one has as ever felt the desire to throw caution to the wind and accept car number 13 when the FIA entry list falls that way. I’d respect them a whole lot more.

In other sports it’s not quite so taboo. Italy’s FIFA World Cup winning defender Alessandro Nesta wears the number for club and country; so did former German internationals Gerd Muller and Michael Ballack. An American tells me that NFL legend Dan Marino wore the number too, though I can’t confirm this. You will need to find your own American.

Overall I’d like to think we – F1 fans that is – are all pretty rational people. We know a number has no bearing on performance. Don’t we?

What it can do though is play on your mind to the extent that it affects your performance negatively. If you go out on to the track – or the pitch, or wherever it is you chosen sport is played – thinking that wearing number 13 will bring you bad luck then it will take your mind away from what you are supposed to be doing. It will distract you; you’ll under-perform and then blame it on the number. That’s how it gets you.

Let’s put it this way: dogs don’t understand numbers. With that in mind it’s no surprise that a greyhound has never been adversely affected by running as number thirteen. His owner might be – and that could affect him – but the dog isn’t. It’s only concerned with the never-ending pursuit of that little rabbit it chases. We could, on so many levels, learn a lot from the wise and noble greyhound.

Back to number 13 in F1. This year the number should have fallen to Adrian Sutil, who enjoyed the best season of his career in 2010; in 2009 it would have been Mark Webber, who took his first wins and best championship finish. But of course ‘due to historical precedent’ they both ran as number 14. Would it have made any difference? You know it wouldn’t.

But did you know that one man has taken a car baring the number 13 in to F1 battle? His name was Moises Solana and hewasn’t particularly unlucky in the sport. That said he was a superstitious man, with an oft-told story alleging that it cost him a drive at F1’s most famous team. But the number? That didn’t bother him, and he wore it with pride at the Mexican Grand Prix of 1963.

In total he contested a total of eight Grand Prix, all on the North American continent. He did his home race every year between 1963 and ’68 and also raced the U.S GP in both ’65 and ’67. It was only in 1963 though, when qualified and finished 11th in a BRM, that he raced as car 13.

Legend has it Ferrari offered him a drive, but when he discovered that he’d spent the night in the former room of Ricardo Rodriguez – a fellow Mexican who’d driven Ferrari before his death in 1962 – he left Modena and refused the offer. Whilst he may have been happy to race as number 13 there were some things Solana wouldn’t do.

He would doubtless have raced more Mexican GPs but his life was cut tragically short in the summer of ’69 when he was killed racing a Can-Am McLaren in a Mexican hillclimb race (not running car 13, by the way). It was a nasty one: he hit the wall hard and his car burst in to flames; no one was able to remove him until the fire had burnt out nearly two hours later. He was laid to rest in the family tomb in Mexico City, and remains a much loved figure among his country’s motorsport community to this day.

So it’s now close to half a century since the number 13 raced in F1 (Davina Galica did try and fail to qualify as #13 in 1977). Next year it would fall to the lead Force India driver, but of course they won’t run it. It would be interesting, though, if whoever was 14 on the entry list asked Jean Todt to let them race as 13. We reckon the little Frenchman wouldn’t have much of a problem with the idea.