Articles / Formula 1

The Tragedy of Helmet, Prince of Arai


Yes, this is a blog about F1 drivers’ helmets. If that wasn’t clear enough. And I do want to apologize beforehand, not for what I’m about to say, but for the lack of cool photoshops (says self-flatteringly) or smart-ass metaphors (well, there may still be a few of those lying around). This is a serious post on a ridiculous non-topic. OK, technically anything can be a topic, but while that is good news for Daily Mail & co, sports journalism claims to approach subjects beyond the reach of mere Rolex-less mortals. Like stupid helmet doodles.

It’s a tale as long as time (or at least as long as this expression): all the legends of the sport have had one iconic design for doe-eyed fans to use as shrine and something to set them apart in the eyes of bespectacled commentators. Fair enough – while I could produce a replica of Fangio’s helmet out of grandma’s old polenta pan and a pair of tattered ski glasses, I could also pick a fair few drivers out of a helmet line-up. But I will probably recognize a Vettel logo on a randomly painted helmet as well. So why the fuss?

The big argument, that most critics are quite fond of, is that an established design gives you individuality. You know what else gives you individuality? The freedom and skill to constantly express your creativity in various manners. I’m a lady, and I imagine a large collection of impressively intricate helmet designs as a sportsman’s own little art gallery. Or the giant shoe closet in Sex and the City. There are those who wear the same pair of sneakers all day and the ones with a stiletto room instead of a nursery. I may not be a Crap Photoshop World Champion (yet) but no one would tell me that my shoes aren’t marketable enough or visible enough for that moustached man over there, drinking his whisky in the passenger seat of a sparkly new Ferrari. Because I doubt anyone under the age of 40 has seriously raised this issue (or that anyone under 40 has both a moustache and a Ferrari).

Second of all, why does sport need to be simple? If you’re in Bernie’s ideal target audience, you must be intelligent enough by now to differentiate between two cars based on something other than the small colourful bubble in the middle. And if you’re young and yet can’t grasp such things, you probably won’t be the future Ritchie Rich that this sport is waiting for.  But then again, has anyone watched cricket? What in the world is that about?

Back to the point, it all comes down to personal choice. As much as we like to make this sport our own, we’re just extras in the puppet show, they’re not doing this for us. If I was a slightly more successful Susie, I’d paint myself a new helmet and racesuit every other week. Cause that’s the sort of person I am, I enjoy creating nice things. Simple as that. If I’m good enough, people will remember me even with a Lidl basket on my head.

Last (and probably least), isn’t it ironic how people complain about the same conservatory monochrome liveries?

PS: I apologize to cricket fans, whiskey drinkers and moustached men (and women, why be sexist?).


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