Our first formula 1 partner Nick Heidfeld celebrated his 33rd birthday on May 10th. Our colleagues Oliver Huitema and Henning Blanke from the racing service department congratulated and presented him the brand new C3 stripes with an integrated communications system SRCS in the paddock of the Barcelona circuit.
We`d like to send Nick our warmest regards for the 10 years partnership and all the helpful input he has given us in order to optimize our formula 1 helmet permanently.
TS: “What about Michael Schumacher. How was it back then?”
JM: “Michael Schumacher already had his own design back then, when he came to us and Schuberth. From then on we tried to bring in our ideas.”
(Helmet gallery Schumacher)
TS: “How many designs have you been doing for Schumacher so far ?
JM: “I would call it design development. There have been about 20-30 since 2001. The most important step was certainly when I was able to convince him that his name didn´t need to be on the helmet. At that time he was already 3-time world champion.
Another step was when I had suggested to him to wear the names of his family on the helmet. He really liked that idea from the beginning and it was very important for him to carry his family “along with him”
TS: “What was the most spectacular helmet, which you´ve designed?”
JM: „Regarding the emotions involved, it definitely was the helmet we designed after 9/11/2001. Three weeks after that we had the U.S. Grand Prix and we thought about how we can set a mark and so the idea came up to replace the Germany-colors with the star- spangeled banner. Even CNN did report about Michael Schumacher driving with the American flag on the helmet. The helmet was auctioned off afterwards to support the victims of the attack.
TS: “How long does it usually take before a design is actually implemented, from the initial idea to the finished helmet?”
JM: “From the first idea to the graphics and finally to the first painting, you can expect about 2-3 days.”
TS: “Some of our readers are probably keen hobby riders. How long does it take for them until the helmet is finished? “
JM: “Once design is fixed, it takes about 15h to paint and build the helmet. The problem is that we have very long waiting list. Especially right now in preseason. We actually paint 2 helmets per week maximum. “
(QF1 – Nick Heidfeld. Schuberths first formula1 helmet)
TS: “How many employees do you have now?”
JM: “We are currently seven.”
TS: “And how many of them are airbrush artists?”
JM: “It isn´t divided that simply. We have people for the graphics processing, printing and organization, everyone else is involved in the painting process. One does more of the preparation work, the other applies the lines- there are different stages here. Basically, the work at each helmet is coproduction, so several employees work on a helmet at the same time. “
TS: “What does it cost to design a helmet if I would ask as a private person with my motorcycle?”
JM: “We currently do not bike helmets anymore. This is a result of waiting times getting longer and longer. So we had to limit ourselves to a scene that we can serve within a reasonable time – for motorcycle helmets there was simply no time left. In addition, a motorcycle helmet and it´s mechanic is very complex and very costly to deconstruct. We have a lot of slidings, air hoses and components, which can not be dismantled that easily. To paint a motorcycle helmet properly you really need the raw shells, which is impossible with most of the motorcycle brands – except for Schuberth, since it is obviously much easier because of the existing cooperation.
TS: “You are also producing the replica helmets for the formula 1 teams and private customers. Does this process take as long as an original race helmet? “
JM: “Yes, the only thing that might go faster is the simultaneous painting of several helmets at a time. The preparation time is shorter with composing the color for more then one helmet. But the production of a Replika helmet is exactly the same as the original race helmet.
TS: “What was the hardest deadline you had to meet?”
JM: “There have been cases in which I´ve received calls in the evening and the morning after, the helmet had to be finished. Especially in the beginning with Nick Heidfeld when Schuberth started with F1, the shell was constantly modified and aerodynamic components had to be adjusted. There were some night-shifts for us.”
TS: “Jens – thank you for your time. And to round it all of, we will paint a Michael Schumacher’s Helmet all red now.”
Some shots of the following steps are uploaded on flickr:
As already announced here is our interview with Jens Munser, helmet designer (www.jmd.de). He designs most of our race-helmets.
TS: “Welcome and thank you for taking your time to be interviewed. Jens Munser, designer of racing helmets – how did it all start ? ”
JM: “It started with the fact that you drive motocross as a hobby and be surprised that there are well-styled helmets in America which fit perfectly to the bike-outfit. In Germany, there wasn´t anything like tihis apart from the helmets off the shelf. I really liked that style and so I searched for someone to paint my helmet but because I haven´t found anyone in Germany, I had to do it myself. It was not easy to acquire the knowledge, but it was always my goal to style helmets and that did kept me going.”
TS: “When did you design your first helmet?”
JM: “That was in 1993 when I commerzialised my first helmet. Until then, I was busy with learning airbrush, acquiring design knowledge, watching other painters work, but in 1993 I did my first helmet as a professional.
TS: Have you been satisfied with your first helmet? ”
JM: (laughs) Not really – I sanded it shortly afterwards. That was my motocross helmet, which after a year I didn´t like that much anymore. Now I am annoyed, of course, because that would have been my first helmet. But the second version still exists. ”
TS: “How many professional drivers do you supply nowadays ?”
(Felipe Massa, my personal favorite from Jens)
JM: “Right now there are 8 formula 1 drivers and some DTM and GP2.”
TS: “How do you start with the design draft, when a driver approaches you?”
JM: “We try to limit the type of design first. What does the customer want, what are his ideas. Usually it helps to have a look at our homepage (www.jmd.de). We have about 600 helmets online where you can pick out certain basic ideas in order for us not to be in the dark. Afterwards we try to estimate the costs and delivery time and then we start with a computer simulation of the coating. Then we send it to the customer and if needed chang the design until the customer is satisfied. ”
TS: “Have you ever discouraged a driver to use a specific design? And if so, why? ”
JM: “Not an entire design, but details that you discuss with the driver and tell him that it won´t fit. Mostly in cases where it´s clear from the beginning that you shouldn´t do that. A classic mistake is to create a gradient from yellow to black: there will always be brown in between. This may look good on the screen or in your imagination, but in reality it just looks dirty.
TS: “What does the helmet design represent for a Formula 1 driver?”
JM: “It´s very important for most drivers – the helmet is the only area where they can decide for themselves how it looks. The car, the overall and everything else is already decided. So this is the only place where they can express their individualism.“
With more than 70 years of experience, Schuberth GmbH has developed a wide range of superb products and is a trailblazer in head protection technology. Schuberth is an innovative, modern and global high-technology development and manufacturing company located in Magdeburg.