Advanced Protective Helmet for Formula One 2004-01-3514
Head trauma continues to be the most frequent cause of life threatening injury to racing drivers and protecting the driver's head is of prime importance. A head protection system must ensure that any loads or accelerations imparted to the head do not exceed those which may cause injury.
The FIA commissioned the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) in the UK to develop an advanced protective helmet and to propose an improved standard to which Formula-One protective helmets must comply. Throughout the project, TRL worked closely with the FIA Research Group, Carbon Fibre Technologies-UK, Bell Sports Europe and Snell-USA.
During a preliminary phase, the performance of current motorsport helmets was evaluated with regard to both laboratory test and simulated accident conditions. Based on this work, provisional performance criteria were agreed for the improved helmet design. During the following phase of the programme, numerous state of the art structural and energy absorbing materials were evaluated. The best solution materials were selected to construct an advanced prototype helmet which demonstrated vastly improved protection within the limits of current geometry and mass.
During the final phase, a production version of the advanced helmet was developed in partnership with Bell Sports Europe. The production helmet was shown to provide improved protection in respect of a number of possible injury mechanisms including linear and oblique impacts, crushing loads and penetration. During final evaluation tests an impact safety improvement of 50% was achieved together with a mass reduction of 20%.
TRL proposed a draft specification for the new FIA standard (FIA 8860 - 2004) and following the successful homologation of helmets by Bell Sports Europe, Schuberth Engineering and Arai Helmets, the FIA World Council agreed for the compulsory use of helmets to this specification in the FIA Formula One Championship from 1st July 2004.