As well as protecting their heads, WRC drivers want their crash helmets to look good - which usually means a lot of time working with an airbrush and marking tape.
The results can look fantastic, but what do the designs mean? We’ve been out in the service park to find out. Up first: M-Sport World Rally Team driver Mikko Hirvonen:
“Starting with the top, we have the blue cross of the Finnish flag. Obviously being Finnish that’s very important to me. It’s a handy reminder too if I ever get lost. My name is on the back for the same reason…”
Taking care of business
“Next we have some of my personal sponsors. HiQ are a management consultancy and software developer. They have been with me for about four seasons. Vacon make electric motor drives, and are another long term sponsor. Toto is new for this year – they are the betting company for horseracing in Finland. Not sure who M-Sport are, but there have big stickers so they must be important.”
“On the back is a design I came up with for my boys. It’s a sort of tattoo, based around the first letters of their names. There’s an R for my eldest son and a K for the youngest. It’s a reminder of them that I can keep with me all the time.”
The Finnish artist
“When it comes to colours I give a free hand to Ari Niittymäki, the guy who has always painted my helmets. He’s Finnish and has done helmets for Marcus [Gronholm] and Tommi [Makinen] for many, many years. I have two identical ones for this season, and each takes three or four days to paint. I tell him what things need to go in the mix – like the flag and the logo at the back – and he works out the colours and the design. There’s no special significance to the blue, black and white, but it goes well with our race overalls. Over the years he has done lots of different designs and I always enjoy them.”