When Felipe Nasr made an incredible debut in F1 with a strong 5th place at the Australian Grand Prix with his Sauber, he also made history for using the lightest helmet on the entire grid: Stilo, a Italian manufacturer that was also making its first F1 race.
With only 1.2 kilos, the ST5F ZERO was a special model design for the Brazilian driver, and it is about 250 to 400 grams lighter than other F-1 helmets. Despite being a “rookie” in F1, Stilo is one of the most prestigious motorsport companies, with a lot of experience in other worldwide series, such as WRC, Le Mans, DTM, GP2 and Nascar – 13 drivers use Stilo on the Sprint Cup Series, the most important in America.
“Stilo was born in 1999 with an idea that I had with my husband (Ludovico Fassitelli Managing Director and co-founder of Stilo). We were looking to do a business together and he was for more than ten years a successful rally driver.”
With his experience in racing, we decided to build and design a complete new helmet. This model, by the way, won 11 of the last World Rally Championships”, said Elena Perini, Marketing Director and co-founder of Stilo.
After almost a decade of success in WRC, with top drivers such as Sébastian Loeb using the Stilo helmet, the company started a new project, design products for motor racing in formulas, touring cars and karting.
Ludovico: “At first, we had a great success for touring cars, such as Nascar, because we had a unique system of communications and drinking, which the drivers found very efficient.”
In this same period, Stilo started a partnership with a Brazilian young driver who was starting his career in Europe after a lot of titles in go-karts: Felipe Nasr.
Felipe: “It was a great opportunity to me to have such a strong support since the beginning of my career in Europe. My friend Augusto Farfus (Brazilian driver, now in DTM series) introduced me to Elena and Ludovico and we are together since the first race in BMW series until nowadays. I am very proud to be the first driver to race with Stilo in F1”.
The top series of motor racing in the world is a challenge not only for drivers but also for helmet manufacturers such as Stilo, which is proud to have 100% of its production made in Italy.
Elena: “It is very important to enter in F1 because of image, of course, but also in terms of developing new products and technology”.
If you have a lighter helmet than your competitors, it means you can have a good advantage on track as well.
Ludovico: ” After 2 corners, all drivers feel the difference between a normal helmet and ST5. Imagine after a 2 hour-race. It helps the driver to be fresher at the end of a race and, of course, this can help him take better decisions and make the most of his driving performance”.
Felipe Nasr said to the press that the Stilo helmet helped him getting points with his Sauber on the Monaco Grand Prix debut – a 78-lap race in the most stressing circuit of the year.
Stilo not only got FIA approval on all security and procures to homologate its helmet to F1, but also was able to built the lightest model in F1: the ST5. In comparison with their similar products, the difference can be up to 400 grams, which is a lot in a sport were every single tenth of a second counts.
Ludovico: “One important feature of Stilo is our knowledge in making a safe and light helmet, which is unique in the world of motorsport. The difference in making a very top product to a normal helmet is the amount of little details. For us, safety is the first issue, but it’s relatively easy to control. Besides FIA regulations, our philosophy is to be better than the limit (of safety). We don’t put limit on cost on material that we use, such as the best carbon fiber in the world, which is made for aerospace purposes. It is very expensive, but the result makes a huge difference in terms of performance.”
The difference in terms of safety from our days compared to the ten years ago, for example, is huge.
Ludovico: “Our standards of security are growing and growing. After 5 years, for example, new rules are applied to increase safety in this area, so it’s a non-stop work to make helmets safer and safer. Nowadays, all of them are capable to absorb a lot more energy in impacts than, let say, ten years ago. We work together with FIA to make new standards, to test new helmets etc.”
The performance of the helmet has some similarities to a suspension of a racing car: if it is well designed, you can make small adjustments and have great results. But if it’s not, you can try a lot of changes, but it simply won’t work. Another important comparison to a racing car: there is absolutely no material on a helmet that is not making an important role in terms of safety and performance.
In other words: no extra weight should be in a F-1 helmet – and that’s the biggest achievement for Stilo in its debut year with Felipe Nasr.
Ludovico: “We process every detail in manufacturing a helmet thinking where we can save weight. It’s 1, 2, 3 grams… that make 50, 80 in total. We use exactly what we need in the right place.”
With such a strong F-1 debut for both Felipe and Stilo, these words could not be more accurate.”
Story by: Rodrigo França
In: Montecarlo Mônaco