One wonders what drivers like Daniil Kvyat think when he sees his Formula 1 driver colleagues regularly appearing at race weekends with new helmet designs?
We mention Kvyat as the FIA had forbidden him to use an alternative design at his home race in Russia. Kvyat kept to it, others deliberately did not – and called on the Formula 1 rule-makers to loosen the corresponding regulations.
“It’s your helmet. As a driver, you should have every freedom to do what you want with it,” says Sebastian Vettel, for example.
He is known for using many variants of his design, some of which are only different in detail. “So I think the rule is a big bullshit,” he says.
“We already have very little room for movement. The helmet is probably the only opportunity.”
“If people like it, it’s great. If not, then it’s not their helmet. My opinion is: We drivers should have it in our hands how our helmet looks like.”
Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, who also often experiments with his colours, agrees with Vettel and says:
“I always liked it when Seb at Red Bull used a different design in practically every race. That was cool. You always asked yourself: “What kind of design will it be this time?
“I myself have a few different designs, but not for every race, because the effort is too great. But if I wanted to compete in red or blue for the next race, why not? It’s your helmet and you should be allowed to decide what you do with it.”
Everything should be allowed, Verstappen says, after all, the helmet no longer serves as the sole distinguishing mark. “We have big numbers on the cars and [the cockpit protection] Halo above the cockpit. “You could just let us do that,” Verstappen says. “I think it’s nice to have a different design every year. Always the same look, that’s going to be boring.”
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas is sceptical about the latter remark saying:
“Sometimes it’s nice to keep the same design. Of course it has a charm to do something special every now and then. Everyone has a special occasion. It would be nice if we had some more freedom, because the helmet is something personal. We should decide, not someone else.”
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At the moment, however, there are clear rules which are defined in Article 9.1 of the Sports Rules. There it says: “To make it easy for riders to distinguish themselves on the track, a pilot’s helmet must have the same design in every race of a season. An exception is possible in a race of the driver’s choice”.
Other drivers like Vettel and Verstappen don’t even ask for permission but often compete with other designs. Vettel does this in the sense of the regulations, because he “basically changes the same design”, but always reissues it in detail. Verstappen drove both in Austria and in Belgium with an unusual look, without having asked beforehand.
Of course, it’s Max, so there was no punishment.