Have you ever wondered the meaning behind a driver’s helmet? How long they have raced with it for, or the value this truly important part of their racing gear has for them? Luca Filippi gives us an insight into his distinctive helmet.
Italy’s Luca Filippi is having his first taste of Formula E this season, driving for NIO. The 32 year-old Italian has an extensive career in single-seaters: he has raced formula cars, has experienced oval races, and has now made the switch to the world of electric racing.
For this new venture, he continues to race with a helmet design he has been using for a long time. The Italian acknowledges he thinks of the helmet as a way to identify himself, not only when it comes to spotting himself on footage or photos, but also when it comes to his personality.
“For all the drivers, the helmet is very personal, very important”, starts Filippi. “For most of us, it’s something that we carry with us for many, many years, something that’s been important in the past”.
The NIO driver says a phrase that really shows the importance the helmet design has for him as a driver. “Changing the helmet is like wanting to change something of yourself, or your driving, or your career, and so on”.
Filppi recalls that he has made a few variations to the design he currently races with, but has maintained it practically the same to the one he started used on his Italian Formula 3000 days, back in 2005.
“This specific design, I’ve had it since 2005, so it’s 13 years. From then on, it’s been developing little parts of it. But the one I had in karting wasn’t dramatically different. The colour, the theme, and the shape have always been the same since ’97 or ’98, so that’s a long time, twenty years”.
As it occurs in different motorsport series, teammates usually have the same car livery. The helmet stands out as a way to identify the driver in question from the other. “The car colours are given, the firesuit is given, and so is everything else, so the helmet is all we’ve got to express ourselves for us and for the fans”.
Inspiration behind the Design.
We asked Luca if he took inspiration from any famous driver’s helmet. “Good question! My favourite one was Mika Salo’s helmet. And actually the colour [of mine] is actually similar to Mika Salo’s helmet”.
But the Finn’s helmet design was not the only one to attract the Italian’s attention. “I liked very much Mansell’s and Prost’s helmets, so most of the white and blue helmets, generally”.
Do racing drivers consider their helmet design as a lucky charm? It is not the case for Filippi. “It’s not about luck. For my personal point of view, it’s a little bit like my identity, because once you’re in the car nobody can see you apart from the helmet”.
“Basically, you just try to identify yourself with the helmet”, he explains. “You just want the helmet to be yours from the design point of view – it has to feel yours, and you are happy if people can recognise you”.
Top image by FIA Formula E; featured image by Adam Warner.