**Notice the extra top piece as it is not like a normal helmet. This helps seal the gap between the back of the seat and the car for added aero dynamics. The brace is to help the drivers neck adding support whilst dealing with the various G-Forces.
This photograph will help explain why the extended piece is added on the back top and is different to helmets we all have seen before.
Formula One over the last 40 or 50 years has take giant strides especially on the technology side of things. We think about the aero dynamics, the engine or power unit plus the tyres, but fail to consider the safety upgrades.
The obvious ones are the racing suits and the helmets as they are the last line of defence when things go wrong. Fortunately we haven't had any deaths for a few years now which could be a combination of technology and luck. Even though this is a dangerous sport it is a lot safer than it once was. Teams have the data to rely on to keep the drivers safe knowing if something is about to break.
Helmet designs are all different depending on the car and the driver. This is from a Mercedes Formulae E car being Stoffel Van Doorne's helmet.
Lando Norris helmet is like a normal one without any added bits as it is not required in the McLaren at this time.
Thinking back we have seen archive footage of what can only be described as madmen or daredevils wearing a leather skull cap and a pair of goggles. If you had something go wrong you literally had no protection and paid the ultimate price.
Obviously you can put what you want on it including a bucket from KFC.
Helmets today are built to FIA specifications and most of them come from specialist manufacturers that only make a few hundred per year. The helmets you see in motor bike shops are mass produced and would fail the testing requirements of the FIA.
The helmets the drivers used are hand made done in specific stages to add strength. A machine couldn't do this work as it takes a team of 3 or 4 individuals to make one helmet over a few days. This obviously pushes the price up which they don't pay as these things are sponsored by the manufacturer. If you and I buy one we pay the price for the drivers freebies which will run you anywhere up to $10 000 each.
The reason for the time it takes to make 1 helmet is the multiple layers of carbon composites and curing times. Many layers are added over hours which will involve carbon and kevlar and layered in such a way they add more strength. There has to be a special radio fitted for communication plus drinking tubes allowing the driver to have fluids whilst racing. The final foam protection layer inside the helmet is done from a laser scan of the drivers head so it fits perfectly.
The specifications require the helmet to withstand some brutal testing like dropping a 10 kg weight onto it from 5 meters. A steel disc being shot at it with a speed of 250km/h. Being put in a furnace oven at 790 degrees with a flame making sure it is not flammable. They even shoot an air rifle at the visors making sure they don't crack or chip. Basically the helmet needs to absorb the impact at high and low speeds which are remarkably different yet deadly. The shock cannot be transferred inside the helmet and any energy needs to be kept away from the internal parts protecting the drivers head.
Anyone can make a helmet that will stand up to the tests but not taking into account that the impact needs to also absorb the shock waves. This is the difference between a hand made helmet and a mass produced one. Drivers helmets are also designed around the aero dynamics of the car and why some helmets look different with added winglets or grooves.
Most drivers will have two helmets with them at anyone time and on average will use 12 helmets per year/season. These cannot be refurbished so a worn helmet has a shelf life as the padding will become compressed due to sweating and general wear and tear.