Motorsport

Lewis Hamilton's $1000 custom helmets

By Susie East

Published 12:13 PM ET, Mon April 20, 2015
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They may save lives but, to Jason Fowler, Formula One helmets serve as the canvasses for his eye-catching artwork. And for the last 16 years, he's been decorating the head wear of reigning F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton. Jo Healy/CNN
"The first helmet we painted for Lewis was back in 1999," Fowler told CNN. "He was still karting so it was quite a long time ago, but we could see he was going places." Jo Healy/CNN
When it comes to custom painted helmets, the possibilities are endless. First they are stripped back to prepare for painting before being airbrushed and finished with a two-stage lacquer. Jo Healy/CNN
Hamilton, who took the checkered flag at Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix to continue his flying start to the 2015 season, is known for his unique helmets. But the Briton was recently forced to conform to new FIA rules that prevent drivers from changing designs during the season. Jo Healy/CNN
"I think it's a pretty ridiculous idea to be honest with you," said Fowler of the ruling. "It's the one area where drivers can be an individual, they can show a bit of personality, commemorate a special race." Jo Healy/CNN
Last year Jenson Button wore a special pink helmet design in the British Grand Prix as part of a memorial to his father John, who passed away in January 2014. Jo Healy/CNN
"The helmet to us is more than just safety wear, it's a canvas, it's a way for the drivers to express themselves," added Fowler. Jo Healy/CNN
Custom-made helmets don't come cheap. Helmets designed for Hamilton can cost upwards of $1000. Luckily, Hamilton has annual salary of $29 million -- according to Forbes. Jo Healy/CNN
As well as looking good, Fowler hopes his works also help the drivers go that little bit faster. "I like to think the designs are worth a couple of tenths a lap," he said. Jo Healy/CNN
"When we send designs to Lewis, sometimes he loves them and goes for them straightaway," explains Fowler. "Other times he's not so sure and we have to tweak things. Part of the design is trying to read someone's mind all the time because they know what they want, but we know what we can do." Jo Healy/CNN
For the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, Hamilton wanted something extra special. "He'd seen an ice-cream truck in America that had been custom-painted with cartoon characters and he liked the style of it," revealed Fowler. "The whole design was hand air-brushed, there was no painting or anything like that." The result was a caricature of Hamilton with his then girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger and his beloved dog Roscoe. While Hamilton and Scherzinger have since separated, the bulldog is very much still part of his life. Jo Healy/CNN
"When we do the design, Lewis is quite hands-on. He's got quite a good eye for design, he's knows the kind of things he likes," Fowler said of his high-profile client. Jo Healy/CNN
"For the 2015 design we kept the same elements as last year but to celebrate the two championship wins that Lewis has now got, we changed the side bars to include two stars." Hamilton has started the 2015 season in imperious form, winning three of the year's first four races. MAL FAIRCLOUGH/AFP/Getty Images/file