Ranking the Top 5 Formula 1 Driver Helmets of 2014

Oliver Harden@@OllieHardenFeatured ColumnistDecember 10, 2014

Ranking the Top 5 Formula 1 Driver Helmets of 2014

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    Formula One helmets are not what they used to be.

    They still, of course, protect drivers from injury, but their meaning—particularly in recent years as drivers have swapped helmets on a weekly basis—has expanded significantly.

    As well as being an integral part of a competitor's survival kit, helmets are now the racing driver's equivalent of a personal statement.

    They are used to echo a sense of patriotism, to deliver messages and well wishes and, essentially, to have a little fun.

    The view of helmets as fashion accessories has led to many weird and wonderful designs gracing the grid, with drivers offering glimpses of their personalities through these colours and images.

    From Nico Rosberg's Darth Vader imitation to Daniel Ricciardo's "smiling assassin" effort, here are the top five helmet designs of the 2014 F1 season.

Honourable Mentions

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    For the night race in Singapore, Jean-Eric Vergne chose to compete with a glow-in-the-dark helmet. It was an innovative idea and one that, surprisingly, had never been thought up before.

    There was just one problem, however.

    The floodlights at the Singapore Grand Prix, as per BBC Sport's Lawrence Barretto, are four times brighter than those at a regular football stadium, meaning Vergne had no chance of achieving the desired effect.

    Elsewhere, Valtteri Bottas' blue, white and red lid perfectly suited the Martini colours of his Williams team, while Jenson Button's tribute to his late father, John, was touching.

    Adrian Sutil's Japanese Grand Prix helmet was beautifully detailed, as was his Monaco GP effort.

    Finally, Fernando Alonso's "farewell Ferrari" helmet, worn at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, was a nice touch, with the lid featuring the signatures of his colleagues as well as an image of a pit stop.

5. Adrian Sutil (Spain)

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    Adrian Sutil, having been dropped by Sauber at the end of the season, will not feature on the 2015 Formula One grid.

    Despite rarely setting the world alight on the track, the German, to his credit, did bring some colour to proceedings with a collection of creative helmet designs, the finest of which appeared at this year's Spanish Grand Prix.

    Although the helmet looked very much like a Rubik's Cube on the wrong end of a punch-up, Sutil revealed via his now-defunct Twitter profile that Antoni Gaudi, the Spanish architect, was the inspiration behind the design.

    A closer view of the lid, courtesy of the Twitter account of Sutil's girlfriend, Jennifer Becks, is available here.

4. Marcus Ericsson (Monaco)

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    On the 40th anniversary of Ronnie Peterson's Monaco Grand Prix victory, Marcus Ericsson opted to race with a tribute to his fellow Swede at this year's event.

    Not only did the Caterham driver wear the exact helmet design of Peterson—who sported the colours of the Swedish flag—Ericsson revealed via his official Instagram account that he would be using the exact same Bell helmet bag that the 10-time grand prix winner once called his own.

    Although retro-style helmets at Monaco are hardly new—2007 champion Kimi Raikkonen raced with a James Hunt tribute lid in 2012, while Jean-Eric Vergne was inspired by Francois Cevert in 2013—the lengths that Ericsson went to to honour Peterson means he deserves to be listed here.

3. Sebastian Vettel (Monaco)

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    Sebastian Vettel is no stranger to quirky helmet designs, frequently changing his headgear throughout a given campaign.

    Although the four-time world champion had a season to forget on-track, 2014 was arguably his best year thus far in terms of racewear, with the German sporting some snazzy helmets

    The pick of the bunch was arguably his effort for the Monaco Grand Prix, which marked his 100th race for Red Bull and saw Vettel take to the streets in this bronze number.

    The dirty brown colour was striking enough, but the fact that even the sponsor logos were drenched entirely in bronze—in this era of gleaming, sponsor-friendly paint jobs—took this lid to another level.

2. Daniel Ricciardo (Abu Dhabi)

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    Whenever Daniel Ricciardo won a race or completed yet another astonishing overtake in 2014, we were always told to imagine that beaming smile breaking out behind his visor.

    An imagination wasn't required at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, however, with the ever-jolly Australian wearing a grin atop his helmet for the season finale.

    The helmet, as per RedBull.com, was the brainchild of Andrea Menardo, a wannabe F1 engineer, who triumphed over his fellow entrants to win a competition by Red Bull Italy.

    Not only did Menardo have the honour of seeing Ricciardo—the only non-Mercedes driver to win a race in 2014—wear his design, he met the Red Bull star ahead of the race weekend, where he was presented with a replica of his own.

1. Nico Rosberg

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    To mark his elevation to world championship contention, Nico Rosberg went mean and moody for 2014.

    Gone was the bright yellow colour that had dominated his helmet designs since his Formula One debut in 2006 and in came this black, chrome and turquoise number.

    In a video released via Mercedes' official YouTube channel, Rosberg revealed that his partner, Vivian, was behind the change in style, which features personal emblems on the chin area and at the rear as well as the usual sponsor logos.

    The German was far more imaginative than his peers in accommodating his personal driver number, No. 6, using Roman numerals on both sides of the helmet.

    2014 saw a host of great helmet designs up and down the grid, but Rosberg claims top spot here as his effort complemented the metallic shade of the Mercedes W05 and looked just as good out of the car. 

    And besides, black is always a winner when it comes to F1 helmets.