F1's new ballistic-tested helmet revealed

F1's new ballistic-tested helmet revealed
Aug 30, 2018, 3:42 PM

The first race-ready version of Formula 1’s new ballistic-tested helmet concept that all drivers must use next season has been unveiled by Italian company Stilo.

The new design, which is the result of nearly a decade of research by the FIA since Felipe Massa’s crash in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, is aimed at helping take driver head protection to the next level.

The helmet sees the current zylon forehead protection area replaced with a fully integrated extension of material – which results in the top edge of the helmet face opening moving down by 10mm.

These new toughened parts will increase energy absorption in the event of an accident by up to 25 percent, and have been tested to withstand a 225g projectile striking a driver at 250km/h. The helmet has also undergone extensive military ballistic testing.

With Stilo’s first version of the helmet having recently been completed, a visibility test was undertaken by Valtteri Bottas in first free practice for the Belgian Grand Prix.

Lance Stroll is expected to test it at Monza this weekend, but the trial may be delayed if poor weather conditions affect Friday running because of the need for different spec visors.

Bottas said it was important for helmet technology to continue to evolve as F1 focuses mainly on car safety developments like the halo. 

“The halo was very good protection in Spa for Charles, but there can still be cases that bits can hit you a lot,” said Bottas.

“The stronger the helmet is, it's always better. The regulations for the helmets have been still for a few years. 

“They want more safety and they need to take harder impacts than before. 

“It is very important that the helmets keep developing, there is always margin to improve."

Stilo’s managing director Guglielmo Belotti said that his company had managed to produce the helmet to the new stricter homologation characteristics without adding weight – and Bottas had reported no visibility consequences either.

“The feedback was absolutely identical to the old,” he told Motorsport.com. 

“The important thing is that even if this is absolutely safer than the old standard, we could get this result without increasing the weight. So the current helmet is the lightest in F1, and this one in racing conditions is identical.”

Stilo ST5 Zero helmet

Stilo ST5 Zero helmet

Photo by: Uncredited

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Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble