With the news that the FIA are to ban mid-season changes in helmet designs, Badger fan Laura Leslie takes a look at a few from the history of F1 that drivers stuck with for their whole careers.
The design on the crash helmet of an F1 driver used to be like a second signature for them, a way for the fan to see a little bit of their personality when spectating.
Sadly these days drivers seem to change designs more often they’ve become about as sentimental as a doodle in your third year English jotter in school.
One upside to drivers changing their helmet designs more often than they’d change their underwear is a rise in the beautiful designs on show.
But don’t you miss the days when you could pick out Senna or Hill from a million miles away? Here are a few of my favourites from years gone by.
Quite possibly the most famous racing driver to have ever graced the face of this planet, and that means his helmet design is automatically one of the most recognisable images in the racing world.
Senna chose a deep yellow base with simple strips of green and blue that allowed him to stay connected to his homeland of Brazil when hurtling down the back straight in Hockenheim at 200mph. His rivals envied him, the backmarkers feared the slash of yellow whenever they saw it in their mirrors.
Today his helmet design remains one of the most iconic images not only in motor racing but in sport as a whole. Greatly missed, never forgotten.
The French Canadian son of the late Gilles, Jacques won the world championship that eluded his father in 1997. He took on the mighty Michael Schumacher and won, but the thing a good number of people remember Villeneuve for was his rather colourful helmet design.
Including what seemed to be every colour in the rainbow, plus some that were not, he shaped them into a clever ‘v’ shaped pattern he later admitted was an accident and not an attempt to link into his surname.
Not many drivers get away with having pink on their crash hat but the fun factor of Villeneuve’s helmet worked. It’s a shame he never won another race after 1997 and only stood on the podium a handful of times. Like him or loathe him F1, needed drivers like Jacques.
Coulthard’s helmet design was as simple as they come. Just two colours, blue like first team mate Damon Hill, and the white Saltire cross of Scotland over the top, created a wonderful design you could spot from anywhere on any track.
He kept the design his entire career, only adding a Red Bull branded band in his twilight years that didn’t really take anything away from the main design.
Coulthard only failed to use his original design twice; once in 2007 when he swapped it out for a tribute to the late Colin McRae – who had died in a helicopter accident a couple of weeks before – and once in 1996 in Monaco. For that famous Monaco race DC’s own lid malfunctioned when it’s anti-fog fail to work so he had to find a replacement fast. Since Ferrari were also sponsored by Marlboro and Michael Schumacher took the same size lid as he did, Coulthard took his McLaren to second place wearing the German flag.
It wasn’t the same as the Saltire though.
One of the most complex and colourful characters the sport had ever seen, Hunt’s helmet design was anything but. Consisting of just three striped colours and a black base it was simple yet memorable because of the man who wore it.
Easy for children to reproduce in drawings and perfect to spot in a crowd, the Englishman only won the title in 1976 famously against Niki Lauda in a year of controversy and tragedy, but his bluster and spirit shone through.
Another very simple design from the one time champion of 1996. Based on his late father Graham’s rowing boat club colours, Damon chose a deep blue base with elegant white strips.
From above there was never any doubting who we were seeing and in a blue and white Williams he became the hero for many a young girl and boy in Britain in the mid ’90s.
Like his team mate in 1996, Jacques Villeneuve, Damon fought Michael Schumacher and managed to come away with a title for his efforts. Underrated or overrated? I’ll leave that for you to decide, but there is no doubting the class of his helmet design.
Another driver who drew inspiration from someone else’s design, Alesi considered Italian Elio de Angelis to be his hero. Sadly, de Angelis was killed in 1986 in a testing crash, which prompted Alesi to use the simple white base with black and red stripes.
The Frenchman did put his own spin on the design though by adding a rather cool blue teardrop, with smaller teardrops inside, on top of the helmet to give the design some definition from above.
Alesi though was a showman, white never really suited his personality and in 1998 he changed the base colour to a fantastic chrome, the helmet matched the man within.
As far as I am aware Alesi was the first to use chrome in F1 to such an extent. Many have tried the finish since but none have repeated the impact of Alesi’s final design.
The Flying Finn won two world titles in the late ’90s and was, in Michael Schumacher’s own opinion his strongest rival.
No one will ever forget the sight of the silver McLaren battling the red Ferrari in Spa in 2000, a race which cemented both drivers legacy in the sport.
Hakkinen’s helmet design was again a simple affair with differing bands of blue running from the top to the bottom, where they eventually turned white. Perfect for a cool Finn.
What made the design stand out best was his battles with Schumacher. The blue base of Hakkinen’s helmet contrasted brilliantly with the fiery red of Schumacher’s. It was strong, simple and straightforward; very much like Hakkinen himself.
A bold and bright driver who some consider to be the most naturally gifted to ever have graced the sport.
His flair in a Ferrari still sparks fever among fans today and Gilles is a driver who, despite tragically passing away before his peak, will live on in the memories of us for a very long time.
His helmet design was a simple affair being just two colours, black and red. The red blended well with his Ferrari car and was a sign of Gilles’ strength, while the black gave the helmet an air of sophistication in an era where things were still very basic.