Most fans and teams identify the racers by their helmets. Helmets are a distinct part of driver’s clothing, and each helmet uses different colours and features sponsor and team logos. However, the primary purpose of helmets in motorsports is to safeguard the driver’s head from injuries.
There have been instances where drivers have only survived because of these helmets. So, it’s not only the colourful identification, but helmets are also essential protective gear. This article will help you learn all about helmets in Formula 1.
Formula 1 Glass Fibre Helmets
The use of glass fibre helmets for Formula 1 began in the late 50s. Until then drivers were using cork helmets as mandated by the FIA and several were also using steel crash helmets. Early racers merely wrapped a canvas cloth around their head and wore goggles to keep out flying pebbles and insects. The glass fibre helmets introduced in the 50s were considerably more durable and stronger than their steel counterparts. Helmets produced using glass fibre are more aerodynamic and offer better protection for the face. The early generation of these helmets, however, featured an open-faced design, which meant that drivers still wore goggles and covered their face with cloth.
With the founding of Grand Prix Drivers´Association in 1961 and increased emphasis on driver safety, a visor was also integrated onto the helmets. This made goggles redundant. Later, FIA also introduced fireproof innings to these helmets. The helmets also carried an inbuilt air supply system and radio systems to facilitate communication.
Photo Credit: maxf1.net
Formula 1 Carbon Fibre Helmets
In 2001, carbon fibre helmets replaced glass fibre ones. Carbon fibre was tougher than glass fibre and also allowed modifications and tailoring. Even though these helmets are typically heavier, they allow better load distribution during a crash. There are 17 comprehensive layers in a carbon fibre helmet.
The rigid shell of carbon fibre features a high-density foam. This foam lining absorbs impact and distributes the weight. After performing a laser scan on the driver’s head, the team customises the innermost layer.
This layer includes a plush foam to deliver comfort and better fitment. On the other hand, the helmets also have chin straps to better fit and safety for the driver.
Photo Credit: www.peakpx.com
Formula 1 Helmet Testing and Standard
FIA makes it mandatory for all helmet designs to undergo comprehensive safety tests. These tests ensure that the helmets can effectively safeguard the driver in case of an impact. The safety test involves dropping 5kg of steel anvils from a height of 3.3 metres on the helmet. Even if the outer part of the helmet is dented, the inside foam layer and steel casing should be unaffected.
Also, the visor of the helmets should use a 3mm thick polycarbonate. The helmets are tested by shooting lead pellets at 500 km/h speed levels. The test for visors includes loading them with weight and ensuring that they do not come off or cut loose during a crash.
These stringent rules for helmets came after an accident involving a Brazilian racer who died from head injuries.
Photo Credit: www.formula1.com
FIA strives and is constantly trying to bring innovations to enhance the safety of drivers. Without these quality helmets, F1 drivers would indeed be at greater risk.
Keyword: What's Inside a Formula 1 Helmet?