The new protective helmet for all F1 drivers from 2019 has been unveiled. And it’s tough! The new FIA 8860-2018 helmet design outlines the requirements regarding performance that other helmet manufacturers need to meet to provide such equipment for F1. Other championships will need to follow suit soon too. The tough new helmet follows more than a decade of research. On-track incidents have provided the project team with further research and development. For instance, the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, when Felipe Massa crashed at 220km/h after he hit a loose spring on the track, has been vital to the design of the new standard helmet.
Under this new FIA 8860-2018 regulation, the helmets need to be able to withstand even greater impacts, absorb even more energy and have even greater ballistics protection. Indeed, they need to be able to hold up to a hammer blow to the chin guard, and the visor needs to be able to withstand an air-rifle shot. As if that wasn’t tough enough, the helmets must be able to withstand exposure to 790-degree flames, a 225g metal projectile being fired at 250km/h and a 10kg weight being dropped from a height of more than five metres.
What’s the Cost?
The helmets are tailor-made for each driver on the grid. They play a very important part in aerodynamics because they direct air towards the air box above the F1 driver’s head. They also need to be able to incorporate air vents, radio communication, tubes for drinking and HANS device to support the head and neck, for example.
It’s incredible to think of all the work, research and design which goes into the driver’s equipment as well as the car. But with such high speeds, safety and the aerodynamics of the equipment are important factors during this exciting and challenging competition. You can see for yourself by getting exclusive entry to the F1 Paddock Club in Hungary at https://edgeglobalevents.com/f1-paddock-club/hungary/.
All that design and toughness doesn’t come cheap. Although prices have not been confirmed, the current Bell HP7 which is FIA-approved is retailing at around £3,000. With the increased specifications and tougher requirements, we can only guess that the new helmets could have a higher price tag. But can you really put a price on safety?