Many Formula 1® fans might only think of helmets when they take note of which drivers have new designs for the new season – or a single race.
But the helmets used by the drivers in the Formula 1® Heineken® Australian Grand Prix 2022 are the product of a long and detailed process of design and development.
There are four brands of helmets used by the drivers: Bell (from the USA), Schuberth (Germany), Arai (Japan) and Stilo (Italy). All must conform to the standards as directed by motorsport’s governing body, the FIA, under the regulation FIA 8860-2018.
A helmet must withstand a number of rigorous tests, including resisting a 10kg weight dropped from 5.1m, a 225g metal projectile fired at 250km/h and even exposure to a flame of 790˚ C temperature, from which the helmet must immediately self-extinguish once the flame is removed.
Once a driver selects a helmet it can be tailored to his individual preferences, in terms of fit and communications. This involves laser-scanning a driver’s head to customise the interior padding, as well as fitting whatever communications devices an individual driver prefers.
For instance, a noise-cancelling microphone allows the driver to speak to his race engineer, and its position can be adjusted with spacers to maximise sound quality as well as comfort.
Then it is just a matter of applying the signature colour scheme, so that the driver can be recognised in the car. That sounds easy, except when you realise that the man in the black helmet in the Mercedes-Benz is not Lewis Hamilton, as it was in 2021. The seven-time champion has changed to yellow, in a nod to his days when he raced karts...
And the cost of protection? Safety is always well worth pursuing, no matter the cost, but there is not much change from $30,000 for a state-of-the-art helmet.