Formula 1 News

Helmet safety development saves Chilton from injury

The Marussia driver was hit by debris during last weekend track action at Nurburgring.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Juluy 10th, 2013 (F1plus/J. Leslie).- Without hesitation, Max Chilton should be thanking the FIA for their recent safety developments after he managed to avoid injury during last weekend's German Grand Prix.

Speed Week reports that the Brits helmet was struck by a piece of debris - thought to be a stone or something of similar size - during Friday practice. The helmet was taken by Formula 1 Race Director Charlie Whiting for analysis by the FIA institute.

Chilton escaped uninjured largely thanks to the recently added Zylon strip - which debuted in 2011 - that runs just above the visor. It is bullet-proof and was added to the regulations following Felipe Massa's accident during qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix.

The 2008 championship runner-up was driving at speeds close to 150mph when he was struck just above the eye by a spring from countryman Rubens Barrichello's Brawn GP car. He suffered serious injuries but made a full recovery to re-join the sport for 2010.

Charlie Whiting took possession of the Chilton's Arai helmet after the race weekend's action at the Nurburgring. After the death of a marshal at the Canadian Grand Prix and the injury of an FOM cameraman at the last race weekend at the Nurburgring, Chilton was fortunate to escape unharmed.

The visor is a polycarbonate medium that is not as strong as the outer shell of the helmet and proved to be a vulnerable area in driver safety, as shown at the 2009 Hungarian round of the championship. The Zylon strip is 50mm tall across the full width of the visor and overlaps the top 25mm of the visor itself along with extending 25mm above the helmet shell edge.

Zylon is a synthetic polymer that can also be found on the side of the cars as anti-penetration panels. This is 6mm thick but can withstand huge loads and was introduced in 2007.

However the material also has a much longer past in the sport as it makes up the tethers that keep the wheels attached to the chassis in the event of a crash. These were introduced in 2001 in a bid to avoid tyres travelling into marshal or spectator zones. 

Max Chilton and his damage helmet after FP1. (Image from Speed Week)

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