Bell Helmets, which supplies 12 of the 20 Formula 1 drivers, provides them with three helmets for each race weekend. Over the course of a season, drivers can use up to 25. Helmets can be reused, but “everything has to be as light as possible, so if there’s a stone chip, we’re not going to repair and add weight — we will.” going to use a new helmet,” said Stéphane Cohen, general manager of Racing Force, Bell’s parent company.
And, as with wetsuits, used helmets are sometimes auctioned off for charity. A helmet that Red Bull’s Max Verstappen wore at the Austrian Grand Prix this year has been auctioned off, along with other items, for 250,000 euros, or around $243,000.
A basic carbon fiber Formula 1 helmet can cost $5,000, but for Formula 1 drivers, Bell scans every head for an ideal fit, meaning it can run as high as $15,000.
Bell must also consider visibility; Formula 1 races take place during the day, at night and at dusk, as weather conditions vary. This means that there are different visors for different conditions, which can be attached and removed mid-ride.
“Imagine driving on a partially wet race track under cloudy skies, and then the dry line, “where the track will look slightly different as it dries,” begins to appear. It is very important for the race driver to see clearly with the highest level of contrast possible where the best lines are and how the track is going,” Cohen said. “It’s a personal choice; some will prefer a lighter visor, others will prefer a darker visor .
Attached to the protective padding inside the helmet is a camera weighing 2.5 grams. It is at eye level and shoots video from the driver’s perspective.
“The goal was to give the viewer the exact view of what the racing driver sees through his helmet shield,” Cohen said. For example, he said, “a bit of oil comes on the visor, we want the viewer to see and feel it.”