Helmet Changes – F1’s Mistaken Identity

Read time: 4 mins

“People for this rule change must have been watching F1 in black and white television.”

In the world of F1, there are many great rivalries. Senna vs Prost, Hunt vs Lauda, Schumacher vs Hakkinen… In 2015, we play by a different kettle of fish. Helmet designs. No seriously, I can’t believe I’m writing about this either. It boggles my mind that one day, a group of 20+ of the sport’s most powerful people came together to discuss…whether drivers can change helmet designs in the middle of a season, or not.

Turns out that according to the FIA, in an attempt to boost the sports promotional power, has decided to limit their drivers to just one design per season. This coincides with their changes of last season where drivers had to have permanent racing numbers, unless you were Champion, in which case, you could take the #1, like in MotoGP.

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So now I’ve had to go back and forth with myself in my mind, to not only try and give a shit about this, but also to debate whether something like this is even worth it. Wonderful. Because for me, the people who are complaining about helmet designs, are mostly older fans who still stroke their Ayrton Senna mini-helmet at home 5 times a day.

I get that old school way of thinking: “A helmet is a driver’s identity” or “signature”, but I’ve always thought: “Really? That’s what you remember a driver by most, more than his actual ability on track?”. To each their own, and all that, but yikes, I think you’re clutching at straws if you’re constantly tweeting about how drivers change helmet designs. It’s not like there’s no other way of recognizing a driver now, really?

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Now obviously, it’s going to be impossible to have a discussion about helmet changes, without talking about Sebastian Vettel, who’s had 85 different changes in his 8 year career to date. Ever considered that if a driver considers his helmet a brand and something to be famous for, why can’t someone do the opposite and be considered the same thing. You have to admit, you may not like the changes, but he’s become famous for them too. Isn’t that not the same thing? And it’s caught on, with Adrian Sutil and Romain Grosjean doing the same thing now in recent seasons.

As much as I’ve seen people complain about helmet changes, I’ve always seen people complain about drivers having a lack of personality (I’ve still seen people wish for another tobacco smoking fornicator like [/fusion_builder_column][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][fusion_tooltip title=”That may have just been Chris Hemsworth in RUSH mind you…” placement=”top” trigger=”hover” class=”” id=””]James Hunt[/fusion_tooltip], like its still the 70’s), and quite frankly, the way the sport is now, where we condemn drivers for being honest, or for playing the PR game too much, something as simple as a helmet design is one of the rare moments a driver gets to express themselves, some creativity, and some individuality. Are we really gonna do something like this to stifle that? F1 is a no fun league these days, and I’m not a fan of that. We should be rewarding some creativity in a sport that constantly gets falsely labelled as boring on a mainstream level.

And hell, I could easily go on for another 1,000 words about how if you’re going to promote F1 on a larger scale, you could do a HELL of a lot more than just banning helmet changes. Such as the crazy shortcomings on Social Media, but that’s for another blog…

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And on a large scale, I suspect the FIA are missing the boat on the bigger issues. The fundamental fabric of running a team in 2015, and competitive balance are huge issues, yet the FIA is super-proactive on the banning of helmet changes. Way to go FIA, way to keep your finger on the pulse. You know, in a field that’s starting with its smallest field since 1967.

People, it’s a goddamn helmet. A piece of safety equipment at its core. Let’s address the bigger issues first, before we all get in a tizz and the FIA alienates their audience further with completely irrelevant rule changes. With the way the sport is now, a little creativity might ease some of the pressure off a sport, which at the moment, ironically, has some serious identity problems themselves.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

About the Author:

Dre Harrison

Dre Harrison, 28 year old Bookies Manager and hobbyist Motorsport journalist. Lover of sneakers and sports, but refuses to stick to it.

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