Why do F1 drivers swap helmets? Real reason explored
Every genre of sport in the world has its own unique way of athletes paying respect to each other and F1 is no different. Often regarded as the pinnacle of motorsport, F1 drivers are single-minded individuals who focus on nothing but extracting the best out of their machinery in every session.
This competitive mentality, coupled with the variation in performance between teams in the sport, can sometimes lead to intense rivalries between drivers. It is in such a situation where drivers prefer to exchange helmets off-track, as a symbol of respect towards their competitors off-track, regardless of what happens on it. This show of mutual respect between the two athletes can be compared to football players exchanging their jerseys at the end of a match, acknowledging the competitive spirit between the two teams.
Ever since driver crash helmets have been an area for customization for drivers, the practice of exchanging helmets has gained traction even more. Several drivers sport special liveries and designs on their lids, marking their visit to a certain venue or accomplishment.
While swapping jerseys is quite a common occurrence, helmet swaps in F1 are only carried out during special occasions. This makes the gesture even more significant and means greater admiration and regard for the opponent.
How much does an F1 crash helmet cost?
The F1 crash helmet is one of the most important pieces of driver safety in the modern day and age. Helmets have served as a measure to protect the driver's face and head since the early years of the sport, however, they only gained traction towards the 1980s-1990s with significant technological support going into them.
Modern helmets are a vital part of the driver's fireproof race suit, gloves, and shoes. Manufactured by ARAI, each helmet for a driver is handcrafted with specific attention to their head size and shape, along with stringent safety standards. Costing anywhere around $50,000, modern helmets are also crucially wind-tunnel tested for not inducing any unwanted drag or lift on the driver's neck, which is a body part that is already overworked during a race weekend.
Each helmet also comes with a bunch of tear-off strips on the visor for the driver to pull off in case of a dirty or blurry visor.
The 2022 F1 season will go live from the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 13 for this year's Brazillian Grand Prix.