Helmet-Cam: Formula One From A Driver’s Perspective

Helmet-Cam: Formula One From A Driver’s Perspective

Ferrari have been playing around with cameras recently, and during a recent test session at the Jerez circuit in Spain, they hooked one up to the helmet of Felipe Massa and sent the Brazilian out on the track for an installation lap. The camera doesn’t show much of the circuit as it seemed to point down into the cockpit rather than directly forward, but it does show fans a closer view of driving a Formula One car from a driver’s perspective.

What we can see from the camera though is still quite interesting. For a start, is is apparent that Massa has calmed down a lot since driving for Ferrari. When Felipe was driving in his first few races with Sauber, he moved around quite a lot inside the car. Martin Brundle would often remark during his commentary for UK broadcaster ITV that Massa was the only driver he had seen who seems to be driving around corners on a straight piece of track. Massa would hacksaw away at the steering wheel and move his head around while others were centred and motionless.

What is also apparent from the view of Massa is that Ferrari have adopted foam padding inside the monocoque, channeling the driver’s legs down to the pedals. David Coulthard always raced with knee-pads strapped to his legs because the Scot’s knees would bang together when riding over the kerbs. The simple solution, Ferrari appear to have discovered, is to simply pad the cockpit rather than the driver. It isn’t yet known if this is also fitted to Fernando Alonso’s car.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a team have strapped a camera to a driver’s helmet, with Coulthard competing in his final race with one. The Red Bull Racing driver showed us a new view of Interlagos in 2008 when he raced in the Brazilian Grand Prix. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see much of it, the RB4 being a bit of a dog and therefore not drawing much attention of the television director. Adding to this, Coulthard crashed out of the race on the opening lap. Unfortunately, FOM have forced the video to be taken down.

It isn’t even Felipe Massa’s first time at showing the world his view from the cockpit, as Ferrari strapped a camera to his helmet after the F60 was unveiled last year. The Brazilian toured Mugello, completing an installation lap just after the world’s media got their first glimpse of the marque’s 2009 challenger. The on-board video starts at 1m32s.

My most favourite example of Helmet-Cam though comes from Fernando Alonso when he drove for Renault in 2006. The Anglo-French squad sent their star driver out on to the track at Circuit de Catalunya during a test session and recorded the Spanish driver’s every move. It was the first time I had seen this being done so perhaps that is why it sticks in my mind. Either way, the footage was just as impressive at the time as it is now.

Image © Ferrari SpA.

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