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Formula One helmets – McLaren drivers lids

Submitted by on November 16, 2014

Formula One Helmets - James HuntOnce upon a time, Formula One helmets were an unchanging symbol unique to each driver, a cornerstone of their profile. To this day when browsing old photographs you can spot a helmet and immediately recognized who the driver is.Sadly, those days are more or less gone. The good news however is that modern Formula One helmets are marvels of safety, beautifully complex and ever developing as designers and engineers push to protect drivers from the unthinkable.

MORE: Illustration – Formula One helmets and signatures

This collection of photographs supplied by McLaren showcases the evolution of the lids worn by their drivers throughout the years. Starting of course, with Bruce McLaren.

MORE: Beautiful 1970s Formula One helmet drawings (gallery) Bruce-McLarenBruce McLaren – 1970

Open face helmets were all the rage during the 1960s, with pilots often teaming them with a neckerchief and a pair of goggles for added protection. This is the helmet worn by Bruce McLaren in 1970, note the black tape across the top of the goggles to protect his eyes from the glare of the sun. Sadly, Bruce was wearing this helmet when he was killed while testing the M8D CanAm car at Goodwood.

HuntJames Hunt – 1976

Half a decade later things had changed dramatically. Sir Jackie Stewart had spearheaded a safety revolution which saw improvements made to guardrails, fuel tanks, seat belts, medical facilities, and of course – Formula One helmets. Full face designs were now the standard, and many of the helmets featured additional safety features, such as James Hunt’s velcro strip around the base – used for attaching a fireproof neck protector and oxygen supply pipe. Alain-ProstAlain Prost – 1988

A huge leap in quality of internal padding and construction saw the helmets of the late 1980s raise the bar of safety once more, however ventilation remained minimal. This particular helmet, worn by Alain Prost in 1988, also featured a very simple onboard radio communication system.

SennaAyrton Senna – 1993

Inbuilt pit-to-car communication systems were now the norm for Formula One helmets. Ayrton Senna’s featured a setup consisting of an internally routed collection of radio cables and a tiny microphone fitted to the chin bar. It was also decked out in one of the most iconic helmet designs of all time.

MikaMika Hakkinen – 2001

This helmet was used by Mika Hakkinen during the brief time in which Formula One helmets featured aerodynamic additions such as a sculpted front bib and contoured rear spoiler. The idea was the more effectively channel airflow in the desired direction around the cabin and into the engine’s induction system.   Jenson-Button_1Jenson Button – 2014

In 2003 the HANS device was introduced, transforming driver safety immediately. The HANS (short for Head and Neck Safety) was designed to restrict neck movement in the event of an impact, and it works brilliantly. Note the locking system on the side of the helmet. The 2014 helmet also features a kevlar strip designed to strengthen the visor, an inclusion following Felipe Massa’s accident in 2009 at the Hungaroring. In terms of design, the modern helmet is ever changing between Formula One events – this particular design was run by Jenson Button at Silverstone 2014 to celebrate the life of his father, John.

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