Now, I’m not one to moan but…
During last weekend’s Abu Dhabi grand prix I was pained to see another example of something that irritates me like chaffing in a PVC gimp suit (just ask MM). This irksome carry-on is when a driver changes his helmet design; something that both Vettel and Senna did this past weekend.
It’s annoying enough when it’s done for marketing reasons or as a tribute to your favourite Neighbours character maybe once a season but it’s getting ridiculous when a driver changes his helmet design after almost every race. Look, just stop it.
It’s not big, it’s not clever and you’re starting to resemble a chihuahua with a new sparkly collar in this month’s on-trend shade of glitter and fur. F1 Vogue this is not!
The main perpetrator of this, as I’m sure most people are aware, is Sebastian Vettel. His website even has an entire section specifically dedicated to his various helmet designs. “Another race, another helmet for our World Champion,” begins one of the entries which read like a weekly column in a fashion magazine:
“Unlike the usual glossy finish of most helmets on the grid, this one has a matte look veneer, giving the lid a rough and ready, rustic look.”
“Glitter has become a bit of a trend in the world of helmet design and the phrase ‘Vettel Glitter’ has been coined by helmet designers around the world.”
I’m sure the Jean-Paul Gaultier of the helmet design world is somewhere right now having a full-on phone-throwing tantrum over the fact that his vat of “Vettel Glitter” hasn’t arrived on time and demanding to know how on earth he’s meant to work under such conditions!
A driver’s helmet is meant to be a reflection of the person; his signature. How often do you alter your signature? Ok, so you might practice variations if you’re a 12-year-old girl imagining which member of One Direction you’re going to marry but, let’s face it, none of the drivers are 12-year-old girls even if they do act like it sometimes. So why are they screwing with The System?
In the past, Vettel’s helmets have included sequins, LEDs, real silver leaf, satin lining and tiles that glow when exposed to light. Future designs will feature a jewel encrusted unicorn horn, free-flowing rainbow juice fed through tubes direct into Vettel’s blood stream, and a thought-controlled scrolling message bar that automatically posts to Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. The latter is currently being tested but developers are reporting a bug which seems to post “Ah-ring-ding-ding-ding” on a constant loop.
In Australia this year there wasn’t just one helmet for race day but three different designs appeared over the course of the weekend. Martin Brundle, who is also vocal about his dislike for drivers changing helmet designs, commented on this trilogy of tragedy to which David Croft asked if it was to do with a sponsorship agreement. Brundle replied, “He must be looking for a faster helmet.” For the love of Ayrton, don’t put these ideas out there. The next blueprint will feature a helmet with its own DRS!
The most questionable design that comes to mind was at the 2011 British GP where the lid incorporated the faces of the Red Bull mechanics. All these little faces staring out from all angles, gurning away in glorious Technicolor for the world to see. This was apparently a “tribute to the guys who work on his car and at the pit stops at grands prix all over the world”. Just say thank you to them! Walk up to them, shake their hands and say thank you. Failing that, send them a card. I’m sure you could get a lovely one from Moonpig saying “Thank you for working on my car and pit stops at grands prix all over the world” for under a fiver rather than forcing me to look at their chops every time the on-board camera cuts to you in the car. Actually, you can get other personalised items on Moonpig, so how about next time you get mugs with their mugs on them? I’m sure they’d let you add a vajazzle or something just to make an extra statement.
In Monza, Vettel’s helmet featured 50 “stitch” tally marks which represented the number of helmets he has worn throughout his F1 career. They looked more like something Jigsaw would have scratched into a wall to remember the death toll in the Saw movies. But 50? Fifty helmets! I’m surprised this wasn’t picked up as a brilliant opportunity to design a helmet with the theme ’50 Shades of Seb’. Missed out on that one, didn’t you Mr Vettel?
What do you think – join in with the grumpy Badger or should we just get over it… share your thoughts people!