Formula 1 returns to its Texas estate for the 2023 United States GP, a race that’s quickly established itself as a can’t-miss event on the calendar in just ten editions, and eight drivers have already celebrated that releasing special helmets this weekend.
It’s also the second sprint weekend in as many races, meaning there’ll be even more competitive track time to show off these beauties. The US GP is usually a hotbed for really creative and eye-catching designs – though 2022 saw no truly standout helmets so one must be due this time around.
Daniel Ricciardo‘s return from injury couldn’t have been better-timed, the Australian always seems to cook up something special for the Circuit of the Americas and what better time to do it than his first race since the Dutch GP at the end of August?
It’s ironic that an Australian has become synonymous with the Texan grand prix, but his recovery comes at the expense of fellow Antipodean Liam Lawson, who’s back on the sidelines after such an impressive five-race cameo at AlphaTauri.
So the pressure will be on Ricciardo at his adopted home race, but nowhere near as much as what Florida native Logan Sargeant will be facing after he failed to finish either the sprint or grand prix in Qatar.
Sargeant remains the only driver to have been whitewashed by his teammate in qualifying, and the only driver whose 2024 seat is still up for grabs – coincidence? He’s also rocking a special helmet this weekend.
And there’s as many storylines to look out for at the front of the grid as the back. Despite Max Verstappen and Red Bull having already wrapped up both 2023 championships, teammate Sergio Perez is looking over his shoulder in second place.
He’s only 30 points ahead of Lewis Hamilton – the first-ever winner in Austin – who in turn holds just a margin of 11 to Fernando Alonso. And behind him, Lando Norris, George Russell and both Ferraris are separated by a meagre 21 points.
This weekend could be (should be?) the one that McLaren finally overhaul Aston Martin in the constructors’ championship, having left the 2023 Austrian GP 146 points behind their Silverstone rivals. That was after round nine, Austin marks round 18 – it’s truly been a season of two completely contrasting halves for the British outfits.
And Ferrari are on a chase of their own, sat 28 points behind Mercedes for second in the constructors’ standings, with a maximum of 59 on offer at the Circuit of Americas.
Apparently unbothered by the Austin-based University of Texas‘ gut-wrenching loss to arch-rivals Oklahoma, Charles Leclerc has gone for a striking American football theme on his lid.
The Texas flag isn’t exactly an original idea for US GP helmet designs, but Carlos Sainz has still managed a cool new take on it.
And fun fact – the Texas House of Representatives actually has rules on flying the state flag:
“The Flag is always attached at the spearhead end of the staff, and the heading must be made of material strong enough to protect the Colors.
“The Texas Flag should not be unfurled out-of-doors earlier than sunrise and it should be taken down, or furled, not later than sunset.”
Austin marks the centennial race for Lando Norris (and George Russell), and the McLaren man has come up with a spectacular design to celebrate it.
That standout design Austin missed in 2022? This. Is. It.
Because with every Texas or America-inspired option available, why not come up with a vomit-coloured helmet of an unsuccessful American football team?
The leather effect is pretty tried and tested for Austin, Lance Stroll went for a similar design last year, but Zhou Guanyu with that helmet in the cowboy hat is certainly a memorable look.
Nico Hulkenberg‘s design doesn’t have quite the same class of Sainz‘s flag-inspired lid but it still channels the brash unashamed Americaness that characterises this part of the world.
Featuring the real superpower in these parts, Kevin Magnussen‘s helmet celebrates Route 66 which is gearing up for its centennial anniversary in 2026.