Hamilton first to fall foul of new FIA helmet rule

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton is the first driver to have been affected by the FIA’s new rule preventing drivers from altering their helmet designs.

The reigning world champion planned to use a special helmet design for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, but says he will not do so because of the rule which was introduced for this season.

“I had a special helmet made this weekend to celebrate Petronas and Malaysia as I love this race,” Hamilton wrote on Instagram, “but due to the FIA’s new rule of not allowing drivers to change their helmet designs, I cannot wear it”.

Drivers are required to use a helmet “in substantially the same livery at every event during a championship season”.

Hamilton, who won last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, sported his usual helmet design during the first practice session but stopped with an engine problems on his fourth lap.

2015 Malaysian Grand Prix

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    Images via Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes on Twitter

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    97 comments on “Hamilton first to fall foul of new FIA helmet rule”

    1. I like this rule, but it would be nice to allow one special helmet or significant change per year as a compromise.

      1. @ed24f1 I don’t agree: not all compromises are good compromises. In this case it’s a rule which isn’t needed to begin with and doesn’t serve the purpose it’s intended for particularly well. It’s symptomatic of the increasingly tiresome over-regulation in F1 and should be scrapped.

        1. I totally agree with Mr Collantine. It is completely unnecessary to dumb things down this far for the viewers, assuming that this rule has been made specifically for the viewers. I think this has come about because I think Martin Brundle has moaned a few times about how he thought it was confusing for him when the drivers change helmet designs and someone from the big boys has taken this up to introduce a rule to that effect. It really doesn’t affect the show in my opinion but maybe that’s just me.

          1. changing the helmet design doesn’t affect the show I mean

          2. I know right, but what makes it worse are the commentators implying how the fans at the track/over the tube can’t figure it out. Insulting and ridiculous is how I interpret this rule change.

          3. @chiliz00 – Mr. Brundle would probably be most surprised that he has that kind of power to wield. If that were the case, maybe some more important rule changes that actually have something to do with racing that he complains about on a regular basis would have been remedied.

        2. Exactly. This rule solves nothing and wasn’t needed. If they wanted to do anything to improve recognizability of drivers during the races, they could have mandated that teams show a minimum size of the drivers racing numbers.

          Here it would have completely sufficed to ask drivers to not overdo it with constantly changing their helmets in a driver briefing. A well presented one off helmet for special occasions is a very nice idea, and it can support the event if well presented.

          In this case, I would think that Malaysians can use a bit of a moral boost, since its still fresh in our memories what happened only days before last years race (and that further plane later last year as well)

          1. Maureen Cole
            27th March 2015, 8:54

            I so agree and helmets are often auctioned off to raise money for charity so being able to associate them with a particular race and time is good

        3. maarten.f1 (@)
          27th March 2015, 6:27

          @keithcollantine But don’t you realize this rule is going to save the future of Formula 1 and our children?!

          1. ColdFly F1 (@)
            27th March 2015, 8:23

            How many tokens do you need to change the helmet?

            1. @coldfly @maarten-f1 I do not know how many tokens each driver will have per season to change their helmet livery. But, I’m sure FIA will restrict any new driver’s option to change his helmet design based on the number of tokens unused by the existing drivers.

            2. ColdFly F1 (@)
              27th March 2015, 22:58

              @eclairstone, good one.
              And if you do not use your helmet in the race, Bernie will let you pay for your own travel and fine you arbitrarily 1/19th of something.

        4. The rule is only stupid because the drivers weren’t capable of exercising common sense in the first place.

          Stupid actions create “stupid rules”.

          1. I completely agree @dimsim. Although the rule is somewhat ridiculous, I felt the constant, neverending helmet changes were even worse. There’s a reason why car liveries don’t substantially change through a season – I feel that there’s no legitimate reason for a new helmet every race like we’ve become used to seeing certain drivers do.

          2. I feel that it is more of a stupid rule because we paint our helmets to fit our personal styles. Rossi in MotoGP is a perfect example of someone who likes to put his personality on his. And every track I have ever raced at or been to, there is always people personal styles on their helmets. This is part of F1’s new ‘robotics’ rule to take that personality away. It serves no other purpose.

        5. Heraclitus said “Everything Changes, nothing stands stilll, except racing drivers helmets”.

          Wow, I didn’t know there were racing drivers in Ancient Greece…

        6. The Blade Runner (@)
          27th March 2015, 8:47

          I agree with @keithcollantine. When you watch a race live at the circuit there can be a genuine issue with recognising which driver is which between teammates and this is something that needs to be addressed. The ban on helmet design changes is not the right answer though.

        7. I thought that the FIA defined “an event” as the race weekend– ie, FP1/2/3, Qualy and Race were “the event”.

          If that’s the case, then as long as the driver shows up at some point during the race weekend with their standard helmet, they’ve complied with the rule, yes?

          Personally, I’d like to see more obvious changes in livery between the cars– maybe instead of the t-bar which frequently gets washed out by environmental factors, add some trim colors around the air inlet, and the rear wing.

        8. Very well said, as usual.

        9. I completely agree with Keith on this one. +1

        10. +1 @keithcollantine
          I genuinely thought the rule was just a joke at first, making fun of F1. I overestimated F1 rule-makers, which is not something I though I would be guilty of, given my constant criticism o them.

          @ed24f1 Do you hear yourself speak? Forget about the all the garbage reasoning justifying the rule for a second, but what kind of a rule is it when at the first occurrence, as a supporter of the rule, you bring up exceptions?

          How is that different from dictatorial despotism when anything is banned or allowed on the whims of a dictator? And even in that example of governance, the rule would still be pointless.

        11. @keithcollantine For once we can agree on something. Opinions aside one has always to question an answer that leaves more questions.

    2. Way to go FIA for “fixing” problems that doesn’t exist while ignoring fundamental flaws within the “sport”.

      1. Thank you for using the word “sport” instead of “show” or “spectacle”.

    3. Fight the power, Lewis!

      1. He was attempting to advertise an oil company. Fight the power, indeed.

        1. And succeeded, we’re looking at this news.

          1. It’s a publicity stunt well executed. A smart combination of pretending to violate a rule while completely respecting it. Somewhat reminiscent of a chained dog that barks because it is chained, and wouldn’t have done so if there hadn’t been a chain to hold it back in the first place.
            That covers the spectrum of my opinion concerning this non-event: Clever, but not particularly worthy of support.

            1. are you claiming this article headline is a publicity stunt or the fact that Lewis had commissioned a helmet be made for this weekend before the rule came in banning changes in helmet design?
              One is an expensive gesture, the other a cheap stunt.

            2. @ chris:
              I’m claiming neither. I suspect Hamilton never wanted a helmet design like this, but saw an opportunity for a publicity stunt when the rule came to be, and ordered a Petronas-styled helmet design to show to the media, saying “If I could, then I would …”, which garanteed some attention due to the implied rebellion. So all in all, it was a cheap and effective publicity stunt.

      2. He’s trying to outvettel Vettel in any possible way. :P

      3. Fight the power, Lewis!

        #GodBless #StayBlessed #TeamLH #BestFans

        1. #OnlyGodCanJudgeMe

        2. Lewisham Milton
          27th March 2015, 21:19

          #PrayForHashtags #LookAtMe

    4. ColdFly F1 (@)
      27th March 2015, 4:50

      A bit thick to call it “fall foul”.

      The first one (worth mentioning) is the one who dares to actually use a different design, and then see if FIA penalises him.

      1. +1. It is not like a drugs possession charge I suppose :)

      2. The way I read it he hasn’t used it and hasn’t been penalised – he simply WANTED to use it but by making this announcement he’s gained a whole of sponsor coverage….

        So kudos Lewis for the marketing win…

        No impact on the racing.

    5. Silly rule courtesy of an FIA run by a silly man. Any mo’ could tell that was Hamilton’s helmet…

    6. He had it made before the rule was introduced?

      1. @earmitage I guess they can’t get it done in a day…

        I find it a bit of a shame that he didn’t try to put it on to find out what penalty would it cause.

        1. Yep, than that would be a good story. I remember Vettel alluding to that the penalty might be money which goes to charity which is why he was expecting to be breaking the rule regularly.

    7. We still dont know what the penalty is do we? If someone is going to break it, my money would be on Vettel.

      1. It’ll probably just be a fine, which is meaningless for most of these drivers anyway. Vettel in particular is likely to consider it more of a “helmet tax” than a deterrent from doing what he wants.

    8. I’m not really a fan or follower of the ever changing F1 drivers helmets, but, this rule is like sending grownups back to grade school. And if you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!

      Let the drivers express themselves. It creates fan interest. It doesn’t hurt anything. The FIA should be paying attention to much more serious issues rather than playing grade school dress code monitors.

      1. @bullmello

        playing grade school dress code monitors

        Couldn’t have put it better myself. That’s exactly what this is.

        1. I think there’s another side of the coin: In the blue corner, the school dress code monitors, in the red corner, the wannabe rebel, who wants to be the cool kid by pretending to break the rules, but doesn’t have the guts to do so.

          That’d make for a rather pathetic fight, since both sides are hesitant to deliver the first punch.

          1. @nase – Well then, score a win for the wannabe cool kid rebel in this instance. He used the dress code monitors’ own rule against them, without violating it, for his own publicity. If there were no rule, he could have just worn the helmet without gaining nearly as much attention.

            It is all so silly and not a thing to do with actual racing.

      2. Yes, this is essentially what we are talking about here. Fashion preference.

    9. How did he fall afoul of the rule if he didn’t actually use the helmet?

      1. Thought-crime

        1. Hahahaha, great one! :)

        2. Blaspheming the holy FIA, FOM, CVC trinity by questioning their holy authority, omniscience and omnipotence? Wouldn’t surprise me.

    10. I smell a publicity stunt, and you are all giving him and PETRONAS the free press he wants. He never had any intention of using this helmet!!

      1. I just think the same. They got everyone talking about the helmet for free. Just one more thing: Hamilton is my driver but c´mon… check how “casual” is the second picture. No need for that Hamilton.

      2. @crazycarts: Yep, that’s what it is, another cheap publicity stunt

      3. Exactly…. publicity stunt taking advantage of the rule

        kudos for the PR win

    11. Well, fear not Lewis, you can always attach that gold chain in the picture to your helmet and wear it on your neck! Haha, just kidding. I am a huge fan of his, but sometimes the things he has on his neck is quite laughable, like the Andy Warhol painting necklace…

      OK, please don’t hurt me, fans of Lewis.

      1. Didn’t realise the Andy Warhol was a necklace I thought it was a painting hanging up in his side of the garage!

    12. I don’t dislike this rule to be honest. It is aimed at a particular German driver with a 4 World Championships under his belt. Drivers should be allowed subtle tweaks for home race, Monaco, Singapore etc.

      1. It may have originated with Vettel’s obsession with ever-changing helmets, but in the end, the rule is part of the effort to make drivers more recognisable. To be honest, I was initially more annoyed by the fixed allocation of numbers, but preventing drivers from changing their helmet designs makes sense, as both rules combine rather well. Of course, the problem of telling cars apart at first glimpse could also be solved by putting the car number and the driver’s name in huge contrasting letters on the most visible parts of the car. But the FIA doesn’t feel entitled to do so, as many teams need these surfaces for sponsors. They probably don’t want to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    13. Thank god he didn’t use it, it looks god awful!

      1. He is a walking talking dictionary definition of a fashion victim.

        I surprised the chin strap isn’t a gold chain.

        1. Duck for cover before his fans start shouting at you that only God can judge him!

    14. It’s more like a boys school rule than a World Championship Sport…. *rolls eyes*

    15. There is no respect from the drivers for helmet designs anymore anyway. Guess FIA tried to bring that back, but it’s not so easy to bring back a mindset of olden days.

      It’s hilarious how everybody rolls over each other to denounce this rule though.

      1. It’s hilarious how everybody rolls over each other to denounce this rule though.

        @patrickl Because its an absurdly ridiculous rule.

        It should be down to the driver & the driver alone what helmet design he/she runs & how often he/she wants to change it through the season.
        The FIA should have no place dictating what a driver can do with there personnel helmet design.

        Drivers in every other category on the planet can change helmet designs whenever they want (Heck in Indycar the car livery changes almost every race on some cars along with the helmet design, Don’t see anyone complaining about that), So drivers in F1 should be able to do the same.

        1. I don’t really felt it was necessary to add this rule, but I understand the reasoning for it.

          Still, my point is that it’s hardly an issue to get so worked up about.

          And all this “it should” nonsense is just nonsense. Why can’t they change their numbers for every race? Why not change whatever they like every race? Why not have different liveries for the two cars? Why do players need to wear white clothes at Wimbledon? etc etc.

          Sometimes people just value tradition above “commercials”. It happens. Deal with it.

          Perhaps it will even make drivers take more pride in their helmet design instead of just using it as a banner for more commercials.

      2. Duncan Snowden
        27th March 2015, 12:09

        Well said. I don’t recall any sympathy for BAR when they wanted to run different liveries on their cars. Nor would I expect any if one of the teams were to turn up at every race with a new paintjob. So why all the bawling over drivers’ helmets? Them’s the rules.

    16. I wonder what the rules say about wearing a helmet. If hamilton drives with the homologated (lol) helmet design he could use the special design elsewehere – in the pits etc. Just to show the pointlessness of the rule!

      1. my english is ok
        27th March 2015, 18:15

        LoL keep it on at all times but not use it inside of the car.

    17. There is so much more potential for driver recognition with their numbers than helmets. I think it’s a bit pointless giving drivers their own number choice when the font and colour of the number on the car are exactly the same as their teammates. The numbers on their car should match the drivers choice of styling, i.e., Hamilton’s white 44 or Ricciardo’s Dale Earnhardt-style #3. If they do that, as is the case in MotoGP, then the drivers will be instantly recognisable regardless of their helmet colours.

      1. my english is ok
        27th March 2015, 18:14

        Yes and I thought at the time that they were going that route… You know who #46 is instantly… you know who 27, 34, 26, 99, 93, 5, 69 etc. The font and style also helps and I guess that is too creative for formula 1 to put it on the car instead of just putting it on tv. obviously it’s also easier to see these numbers on the front of a motorcycle but I agree with your comment.

    18. Great Helmet, dumb rule.

      Anyone know how about how much these helmets cost?

      1. my english is ok
        27th March 2015, 17:53

        Thousands of dollars. I believe his helmet is the arai gp-6 RC and a full feature one costs 3,000 to 6,000 dollars.

    19. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      27th March 2015, 12:26

      Rule apart, it is funny how he wants to look rebelious and cool by making the photo include his Snoop Kanye 50 DMX gold chain and his (I guess) hyperexpensive sunglasses.

      1. my english is ok
        27th March 2015, 17:45

        Actually if you look closely his clothes are also on that table. He didn’t just decide to place shades and a gold chain. I think you’re reading into it, too much, trying to draw a conclusion and trying to be funny… You succeeded at neither. Lewis is pretty trendy actually.

    20. This rule is simply nonsense.

      Who, really, was confused about the helmet changes? Bernie and other 80 year olds? The diehards know about the helmets before the weekend starts. The casual fans don’t know any of the driver helmets to begin with.

      The problem with driver helmets these days is not changing colors. It’s that too many of the designs have too many intricate points and arrows and other fine design details that blend into a multi-colored mess from the stands and on TV. Ricciardo/Perez/Verstappen…are examples. Bold and simple designs are best (Couthard/Hill/Cevert/Andretti). Massa and Button were on the right track, but have slowly ruined their brilliant designs over they years.

      Nasr has a nice bold 2 color design. Another reason to like that guy.

    21. Next thing FIA would do is “One should only celebrate in following manner…”, “One should wear red socks and purple gloves….”

      1. No facial hair and army cuts, for all.

    22. I miss the red camera, that was far easier to spot quickly than the black one now used. OK I know the other camera is an easily identifiable yellow but I just found that the red/yellow combination worked for me better than black/yellow. Unless it is from the cockpit camera I seldom identify a driver by looking at his helmet. Stupid unnecessary rule, does absolutely nothing to help the sport and only dumbs down what is one of the few areas that a bit of visual flair and imagination is possible. As an aside, I seem to remember a few years back that Alonso refused to use the car with the yellow camera because it was, in those days, associated with the number two driver. I notice that, despite his team seniority, Button has the yellow camera on his car. I wonder if this is Alonso being his usual petulant self and playing mind games with Button or an indication that despite their protests to the contrary McLaren favour one driver over the other.

      1. Yes I don’t know why they scrapped that.

    23. Helmet design is like a signature; you don’t change it every weekend, do you?

      1. Enzo from Italy
        27th March 2015, 18:31

        Is not really. There are many famous racers who altered their design yearly or weekly for some. I think if you can afford it and you are creative enough, it’s fine. i don’t have troubles spotting who is who on the track so it really makes no difference to me or the show. Your signature is your career, your race performances… What you make of yourself in the end. The beauty of racing is that it is like an art form… a way of expressing yourself through the motion and machine.

        There are historic pilots who simply wear leather and some aviation goggles and we remember them because of their achievements and such. I never understand this belief that the helmet is their signature. If ayrton senna change his helmet race by race we would still recognize him as the best or one of the best. To me the helmet is just another way of creation and expression, not a finalized thing.

        1. Enzo from Italy
          27th March 2015, 18:33

          Not *always* a finalized thing.

        2. The older helmets make a statement. Hakkinen, Senna, Depailler, Cevert — even today I can tell how these helmets look like. However, unfortunately, I won’t remember for a long time how current driver’s helmets look like like.

          1. Enzo from Italy
            27th March 2015, 23:47

            Ok, so can many of us here but the helmet didn’t make them who they were. You wouldn’t care much about those helmets if they weren’t placed on top of *their* heads, those guys are regarded as legends and well known faces of formula 1 history because of the things they achieve or how they present themselves. The helmet didn’t make any statement, the pilots did. If they were all pilots from the 60’s with the same brown leather helmet we would still think of them highly.

            The point I try to say is … it was their choice to leave it the same or similar for their career but if they ever wanted to change it they could. It should also be these current pilots choices to change them if they want to but they no longer have that choice now and for what? There are many other ways and many other memories to cherish of the drivers, than a helmet.

            I want to clarify though, that I do respect whoever doesn’t change the helmet but I think this rule is very ridiculous.

            1. I am talking purely about design here. Let’s separate driving skills from helmets.

              My point is simple: helmets that change from race to race are complicated. I don’t mind at all occasional design changes (like Monaco or home race for example, as long as the basic layout remains constant), and I do understand there’s a fashion nowadays to show off different helmets. However, from a perspective of a fan, I want to be able to easily identify a driver 20 years from now by their signature helmet.

              Let me highlight that while Vettel is notorious for constant design changes, the basic layout of his helmet has never really changed. What is beyond my understanding is the helmets of Kamui Kobayashi, as only one example of many. Please take a look at first and last photos via the link below, and tell me if you would ever think this is the same driver: https://www.racefans.net/2015/03/11/kamui-kobayashis-f1-career-in-pictures. Further, I am not able to tell who the driver behind Kamui in the last photo is without making a research. I just don’t think it’s right and fair to the fans.

          2. Enzo from Italy
            6th April 2015, 18:22

            I understand that but the helmet isn’t their final signature, the career is. I’m just saying that the helmet is on their head and because of the things they achieve you also take the helmet into consideration.

            I already know it’s Adrian sutil because I am frequent on formula 1 website and this website etc. I don’t identify pilots just from their helmet that to me is silly. one car also has a Yellow T-bar and one is just black. They used to have a red one and maybe they should bring that back. kamui actually has traditional Japanese art on his helmets too, so it’s not some fashion statement… Do your research before the season starts it helps as well. There are 10 teams each with 2 pilots, it’s not difficult. I don’t understand why there is such confusion sometimes.

            1. Enzo from Italy
              6th April 2015, 18:29

              Also maybe larger and unique numbers can help this… issue.

      2. @serg33 Who are you to say?

        It is not uncommon to use multiple signatures and/or to change them. I’ve not yet know a person who has gone through adult life that has not changed his/hers signature.

        So even if I were to grant you this blatantly false equivalence, your argument is stillborn.

    24. Enzo from Italy
      27th March 2015, 17:39

      I dont understand what the purpose of this rule is and what it adds to the sport … Well I do understand at face value but if you can’t tell who is who, when a helmet design changes… you shouldn’t really call yourself a true fan. It’s not like everyone in the field changes their helmet all at once, it’s usually the same suspects and it usually has a purpose unless it’s Vettel. This is a beautiful helmet from Lewis and we wont be able to see it now because of this very silly rule. Sometimes it feels more like a army than a sport.

    25. Are we so superficial that we waste so much time and energy on this helmet rule? This is a non issue. I agree the rule is more or less useless but the arguments that this rule has spawned are beyond ludicrous.

    26. I have an idea. If They’re so worried about driver recognition, why don’t they make each driver wear an oversized novalty head helmet. We’d know who was who then!

      1. I do think that should be in order. Something like this…


    27. Larger numbers to identify drivers not helmet design would be better way to know which drivers which

    28. Has Hamilton changed to Bell? Or is he using both?

      1. He uses Arai.

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