If you ever ask the question, “What should I pay for a crash helmet?” invariably you will get the answer, “What’s your head worth?”
Felipe Massa’s miracle escape from the incident at the Hungarian Grand Prix, where he was hit on the head by a 500g metal spring at 150mph, is testimony to the strength of the modern F1 crash helmet and makes you realise how invaluable it is.
I’ve spoken to a few drivers lately who never really considered being hit on the head until the tragic incident of Henry Surtees and then a week another freak accident, for Massa. It’s woken them up to the risks, but in terms of designing into the cars ways of ensuring this can never happen, it’s a very difficult area in which to improve safety.
Massa’s helmet maker, Schuberth, has had a long relationship with Michael Schumacher and for his comeback at Valencia in 12 days time he will be sporting a new model costing £12,000, according to German newspaper Bild, which always has the Schuey stories first.
This new helmet has seven stars on it, one for each of his world championships and has the names painted on it of his wife and children, who presumably will be viewing this comeback with mixed emotions, given the circumstances of the recent accidents. They may well have believed that Michael had put the dangers of F1 behind him.
The area around the visor, where Massa was hit by the spring, has been strengthened on Schumacher’s helmet with titanium. The message is, he’s leaving nothing to chance and this is classic Schumacher.
It is amazing, scanning the German and Italian media at the moment. It’s as if the clock was rolled back and it was 2000 all over again. Every move by Schumacher is reported and subjected to analysis and pictures. He celebrated his 14th wedding anniversary with his wife, went karting for four hours to work on his race fitness and took his top off for a while and there are articles about what great shape he is in. Apparently he is aiming to be back at his fighting weight of 69 kilos. Depending on who you believe, he had four or five kilos to lose to achieve that.
The FIA scales will not lie, so we will see whether he achieves his objective in the three week time frame.
He may have missed the thrill of the racing, these past two and a half years, but you can be darned sure he hasn’t missed the three ring media circus that accompanies the every move of a sporting superstar.