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Drivers unhappy with "BS" helmet rules

NEWS STORY
05/11/2019

Over the course of time, just one fleeting glance at their helmet was enough for fans to know who was wearing it, be it the tartan of Jackie Stewart, the London Rowing Club colours of Graham (and Damon) Hill or the yellow, black and green of Ayrton Senna.

In recent years however, as the cars, overalls and pretty much everything else appeared to look the same, drivers sought to personalise the one thing they felt still identified them, their helmets.

During his Red Bull days, Sebastian Vettel would sport a different helmet livery at every race, sometimes changing the look over th course of the weekend, but as is so often the case, the spoil sports at the FIA chose to interfere, ruling in 2016 that drivers were only allowed to change the look of their helmet once over the course of the season.

While some, most notably Vettel, have continued to make subtle changes, occasionally opting for a whole new look, the debate kicked back into life over the Russian Grand Prix weekend when Daniil Kvyat was refused permission to wear a special design.

Last week, Lewis Hamilton took to social media to ask fans their thoughts. "How many of you think it’s BS," he asked in a poll on Instagram, “who thinks we should be free to express ourselves and have more changes?” 90% of those that voted agreed with the world champion.

Over the weekend at COTA, the subject arose once again, with Vettel and Max Verstappen making no secret of their thoughts on the rule.

"Well, I change it anyway," smile Vettel, who has sported a number of different deigns this year, including a tribute to Niki Lauda in Monaco, "it's our helmet and we should be free to do what we want, so I think the rule is major BS.

"We have very little room left to sort of express ourselves," he continued, "and the helmet is probably the only one and if people like it, that's great, if they don't like it well it's not their helmet so I think we should be in charge for designing which way and which colour our helmet has."

"I agree," added Verstappen. "I always loved when Seb was at Red Bull and changing his helmet every race, almost, more or less.

"It was cool because you were just like 'what is he coming up with now?' I do a few but I'm not going to say I will do a different helmet every race because it's just too much effort in designing the helmet but I think if you want to make it blue or red, the next race, why not? It's your crash helmet and you should be able to do what you want and of course in the past, there have been drivers who have always had the same helmet and then they say 'yeah, but that's how we can distinguish the drivers' but at the end of the day we have massive numbers on the side, we anyway have a halo on the top so let us do what we want with the helmet now.

"I think it's very nice to have a different design every year because it's a bit boring always to keep the same helmet."

"I don't know," admitted Valtteri Bottas, who has retained the same basic design ever since he entered F1. "Sometimes it's nice to keep the same helmet but for sure sometimes it would be nice to do something special, every now and then and obviously everyone might have a special occasion, you know, whatever, or a special connection to some certain country where you want to do something special or pay a respect to someone you know or whatever.

"It would be nice to see a bit more freedom because like both of them have said, it's our personal thing. We should be in control of that rather than anyone else."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Uffen, 09/11/2019 0:08

"The FIA recently decided to do away with championship-related car numbering and switch to a "permanent" number system. This was another rule meant to give fans something to cling to (e.g. G. Villeneuve's association with #27). Unfortunately the numbers are difficult to see, and if they can be seen are hard to distinguish. I my mind, another failure. The helmets were once something to cling to, as stated in the opening of this piece. For the last few years helmets have become hard to distinguish (with exceptions) with the Red Bull drivers as prime examples. I think that constant design change is silly, but, yes, it makes no real difference, just as I think a rule prohibiting helmet change is silly.
Sadly, F1 has become rife with silliness. "

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2. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 06/11/2019 16:00

"Driver's should be able to change their helmets on occasion, but temperance is needed. There has to be a default design associated to the driver and when the occasion warrants a change to the design; do it. Similarly with the car livery."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by matra123, 06/11/2019 9:18

"The ruling regulating helmet design for one year is another example of what I call the Brusselisation of F1. We all know how Brussels likes to regulate everything...."

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4. Posted by Roli, 05/11/2019 23:07

"What a load of codswallop. A driver's helmet doesnt change or make the car better. Its how he drives, or these days how the car drives him! Utter BS !"

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5. Posted by C5, 05/11/2019 22:58

"I appreciate a driver keeping the same design for years or even entire career, save one-offs for spacial occasions.
But i also think it's cool when a driver consistently does something unique for each race.
Every person had something that makes them feel special, and i fail to see what business anyone else have putting limits on their freedom to do what makes them tick."

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6. Posted by Spartacus, 05/11/2019 17:02

"I kind of have mixed feelings about this, since it was one of two ways to really tell who the driver was. The helmet and the T-camera mount color as Kenji stated. A few examples are Michael Schumacher and Barrichello both had similar designs with the blue oval and horizontal white. Michael then changed to all red design. Another example is Niko Roseberg (Optic Yellow) and Hamilton (Meyer Lemon Yellow) however their colors were fairly easy to distinguish in my opinion. Niko changed to black and hamilton to a white/red. I would like to allow the drivers to have liberty with their designs as long as they alter the color of the halo per team/driver and have the car numbers very distinct on the car. The Mercedes with a silver and black number combination doesn't work. Perhaps a different color or stripes on the front/rear wing? A comment from a "Yank" across the Atlantic."

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7. Posted by Lakota, 05/11/2019 16:39

"Instead of focusing wasted energy on helmets. You would think they would try to make the racing, if you call it that , better . Used to not miss a minute of the race. Now watch the pre race , start and first pit stop. What am I missing ? Very little "

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8. Posted by kenji, 05/11/2019 13:19

"I also think that the helmet rule is , largely, BS. Most TV camera shots do not allow one to see the helmet colours due to the halo. As for the numbers that is also BS. as they are almost impossible to see and tread. I tend to watch/look for the roll hoop camera colour to be discernible. Let the drivers do their own thing with their helmets."

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9. Posted by Jet Jockey, 05/11/2019 13:05

"Agreed... Drivers should be allowed to change their helmet designs as may times as they want."

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10. Posted by aroutis, 05/11/2019 12:55

"Drivers should be able to wear whatever helmet they liked as long as there was no issue of modesty.
I don't understand the (indeed BS) helmet rules. "

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