LONDON (Reuters) - Formula One drivers are to be barred from changing helmet designs during the course of a season in a ruling aimed at helping fans identify their heroes and also pleasing traditionalists.
It will be less well received by those drivers who like to change the look of their lids with some frequency.
The decision was taken by the governing FIA’s Formula One Commission, which met on Tuesday, one of those present confirmed to Reuters. It has yet to be ratified by the World Motor Sport Council.
“The FIA is keen to have stability so people can identify who is in the car,” said the source. “The new phenomenon of drivers changing helmet every few races isn’t helping.”
The news received a mixed response on social media, with sportscar racer and former F1 driver Alexander Wurz one of those critical of the decision.
“I hear F1 banned drivers to change helmet design during season. I am a fan of consistency. BUT SERIOUSLY! What’s next? Rules on haircut?,” said the Austrian on Twitter.
Australian Mark Webber, who left Formula One at the end of 2013 and now races for Porsche in sportscars, suggested there were “bigger issues than this” for the sport to address.
Others pointed out that one-off helmets, such as the special design worn by Jenson Button in 2011 and auctioned off to raise funds for victims of a Japanese earthquake and tsunami, would not be allowed.
Nor would tribute helmets, such as the James Hunt one worn by Kimi Raikkonen in 2013.
According to the autosport.com website, four times world champion Sebastian Vettel has used some 60 different designs since his debut in 2007 — although he said recently he was likely to stick with one now he was at Ferrari.
The frequent changes have rankled with more traditionally-minded fans, who yearn for the days when drivers were easily recognisable by helmet colours and when cars also had much bigger numbers on their sides.
Britain’s two times champion Graham Hill famously raced with the colours of the London Rowing Club, dark blue with white tabs, in the 1960s and 70s with son and 1996 champion Damon following the tradition.
The most distinctive helmet of all belonged to the late Brazilian triple world champion Ayrton Senna, who was always associated with his country’s yellow and green colours.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Justin Palmer