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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Top 10 Best Formula 1 Helmet Designs Ever Used

Top 10 Best Formula 1 Helmet Designs Ever Used

Publish Date: 04/22/2023
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
So many great helmet designs popped up over the years but which one is the best?

Drivers nowadays seem to change their helmet designs with every race. Some change it slightly as a nod to the country they’re racing in, and anniversary, to honor a driver or for some other kind of tribute. Some change it entirely for that race in particular and that’s not exactly a bad thing as we get to see some more creative designs. In any case, it’s very rare that the same helmet design is used for the entirety of the season. It’s to be noted that most of the current helmet designs seem too ‘’busy’’ full of lines, details and designs that show off the artist’s talent, and patience.

Today we’ll look back at some of the sports’ most iconic racing helmet designs and pick out some of my favorites. As usual this article is purely based on my personal interpretation of the best F1 helmet designs. Some of which often tend to contrast very well with some of the best F1 liveries ever.

10 – Riccardo Rosset

Ricardo Rosset's unique helmet design is definitely one of my favorites!

Ricardo Rosset’s unique helmet design is definitely one of my favorites!

A name which isn’t often mentioned in F1 purely because he wasn’t particularly good. He started in 33 races in F1 driving for Footwork, Lola and Tyrell, and scoring no points. As a native Brazilian, his design featured the colors of his country in what is one of the most beautiful helmet designs ever.

09 – Jacques Villeneuve

Jacques Villeneuve's colorful design inspired by his Mother's home made sweater!

Jacques Villeneuve’s colorful design inspired by his Mother’s home made sweater!

Much like his father’s helmet design in the turbo era of the 1980’s Jacques’ design was bold and different to say the least. The French Canadian and 1997 F1 champion claims that his inspiration for his helmet was found in his mother’s hand knit sweaters after she had taken some fashion design lessons she created a colorful sweater which according to Jacques must have remained embedded within his subconscious.

08 – Sebastian Vettel

Vettel's unique offset design featured prominently during his time at Ferrari

Vettel’s unique offset design featured prominently during his time at Ferrari

Seb’s helmet design in his later years was plain, simple and unique. Plain white with the offset German flag colors running down the length of his lid. Although the design might have changed slightly through the years, the basis for the four time world champion remained the same.

07 – Fernando Alonso

Colourful and contrasting, Alonso's original helmet design made a comeback when he himself made a comeback to the sport in 2021

Colourful and contrasting, Alonso’s original helmet design made a comeback when he himself made a comeback to the sport in 2021

When the Spaniard was showing off his speed and taking the fight to the likes of Michael Schumacher, his helmet design had a mix of colors taking inspiration from his country’s flag whilst also adding a hint of blue and yellow thanks to the cigarette sponsor deal Renault secured at the time. A design which he resurrected to mark his return to the sport, hopeful that it’ll bring him luck in securing that ever eluding third world championship.

06 – Nelson Piquet

Neloson's helmet remained pretty much unchanged through 14 racing seasons in F1!

Neloson’s helmet remained pretty much unchanged through 14 racing seasons in F1!

One of the most unique and recognizable helmet designs during his time, Nelson’s helmet featured a bold red teardrop with two interconnecting red lines running across the helmet. In his 14 seasons of F1 racing the three time champion’s design hardly ever changed, except for when he was driving for Lotus in 1988 and 1989 when the tear drop was changed from red to yellow.

05 – Unused 2020 Lewis Hamilton

The unused helmet had it's white color swapped to black in support of the BLM movement

The unused helmet had it’s white color swapped to black in support of the BLM movement

Lewis is notoriously known for changing his helmet designs rather frequently, but how can you blame him? He’s into fashion, design and as he once said the designs reflect his colorful personality. My favorite has got to be his unused helmet from 2020. Before Covid-19 Lewis was going to run in a spectacular white and purple designed helmet, which was then changed to black and purple, which is still very nice, but the white and purple contrast is something else. It’s also similar to the one Zhou Guangyu currently wears.

04 – Jackie Stewart

Sir Jackie Stewarts helmet design featured his clan's tartan pattern

Sir Jackie Stewarts helmet design featured his clan’s tartan pattern

The flying Scot’s helmet was born after his wife Helen applied the ‘royal Stewart tartan’ band to his open face helmet and one of the most unique and distinctly designed helmets was born. It’s a simple yet effective design, and is still easily recognisable today as a two time world championship winning helmet worn by none other than Sir Jackie Steward.

03 – Michael Schumacher 

Michael Schumacher's early helmet design is truly one of the best!

Michael Schumacher’s early helmet design is truly one of the best!

Michael’s design for his helmet hardly changed from his debut with Jordan in 1991 until the year 2000. The white background features his native German flag colors which made the helmet look like it’s going fast standing still. The top of the helmet featured a blue circle with stars. He won two of his seven championships with this design before moving over to a red helmet, which in my opinion didn’t stick out in the red Ferrari, but looked amazing with Mercedes.

02 – Mika Hakkinen

Mika's stunning helmet design as used during his championship winning year of 1998

Mika’s stunning helmet design as used during his championship winning year of 1998

One of my all time  favorites, probably because it’s very similar to Senna’s design, It’s in fact almost identical. The simplistic design features white and different shades of blue akin to the Finnish flag. The blue colors ran around the helmet, he usually also had another circular blue section at the top of the helmet. His design hardly ever changed throughout his career, helping him win two World Championships.

01 – Ayrton Senna

Quite possibly the most iconic helmet design in all of motorsports

Quite possibly the most iconic helmet design in all of motorsports

Probably the most iconic helmet not just in Formula 1 but in all of motorsport. The legend that is now Aytron Senna raced with the exact same design from his karting days up until his untimely death in 1994. Similar to Mika’s helmet, the helmet design features his country’s colors of Brazil. Painted yellow with a green and blue stripe running across the length of the helmet helped the Brazilian secure 3 World Championships, 41 wins, 80 podiums. Simplistic, unique and iconic.

Honorable Mentions

  • Ronnie Peterson – There’s no mistake where this driver was from with a blue and yellow design taking inspiration from his native Swedish flag. With 10 wins to his name, he met his untimely demise due to injuries sustained at the 1978 Italian Grand Prix.
  • Emerson Fittipaldi – A simplistic black helmet with a red stripe running diagonally, his country’s flag of Brazil on the side and the iconic ‘’Cafe Do Brasil’’ logo. A simple yet effective design helped the Brazilian secure two World Championships.
  • Graham & Damon Hill – Perhaps a bit too simple but exclusively worn by the Hill family. Dark blue with small, thin white stripes circulating the helmet helped Father and Son win three World Championships between them.
  • James Hunt – Quite a unique helmet in my opinion, but once again very simple. A black helmet with a blue, yellow and red stripe running across the helmet and his name in bold white on each side.
  • Peter Revson – A name not often talked about, a two time Formula 1 race winner who also enjoyed success at the Indy 500. The American’s helmet was a patriotic red, white and blue but very unique in design. Sadly he passed away after crashing heavily during the South African GP practice in 1974 whilst driving for Shadow.
  • Elio De Angelis – Very simple red, white and blue which was interesting considering he was an Italian racing driver. Apart from the colors used, the actual design of the helmet was quite unique, akin to a stormtrooper!
  • Stefan Bellof – The German had a design similar to Fittipaldi’s but using the German flag’s colors. He raced in F1, F2 and in Sportscar racing. Many said he would have been a future F1 World Champion if it wasn’t for his untimely death during the 1000 km of Spa in 1985.

Did you have a favorite helmet design? Let us know which one you would have added or removed and don’t forget to check our Formula 1 news page for more great F1 updates and historical articles!

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