A chat with helmet painter Jens Munser
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9th December 2012, 16:23 at 4:23 pm #132509
When I was in Germany last week I was lucky enough to meet Jens Munser at his studio. For those who don’t know who he is, he paints and designs helmets for Alonso, Schumacher, Webber, Rosberg, Massa, Ricciardo, JEV and of course he’s known for being behind Sebastian Vettel’s 54 helmets.
You can read the interview I wrote up here – http://www.redbull.com/en/motorsports/f1/stories/1331579592071/-racing-isn-t-just-a-sport-it-s-a-show-
But I wanted to share a bit more with fellow F1 Fanatics.
I was interested to know how much input Vettel actually had in his designs. Jens gives him a long list of ideas and Vettel decides which ones he likes. Then they present a mock-up design to him before it’s made. The only time Vettel was left in the dark was at the British Grand Prix this year when he asked for his helmet to be designed by the mechanics, so Jens kept it a secret from him until the race. This design featured a German flag that was being covered up with a Union Flag.
The craziest helmet I saw was this one – http://www.telly.com/67YOJ (That Keith shared on Twitter a few days back) This wouldn’t pass FIA safety regs though and I imagine it would be quite off putting for the other drivers! The Singapore helmet (that’s the one that had the LED lights on) was fascinating. A small battery is placed in the neck part, which doesn’t effect safety regulations. I found out that the helmet actually reacts to vibrations, so that’s probably why it flashed so much in Singapore, the idea came from his son who had a bouncy ball that flashed when it bounced. He was also pretty worried that this helmet would interfere with the radio, so he had to do quite a lot of tests.
Vettel’s helmet design before he signed for Red Bull featured the crab from the Little Mermaid (called Sebastian) but I don’t think he’ll be using that if he leaves Red Bull! It’ll be interesting to see what he does.
He designed Schumacher’s helmet from about 2001 onwards. Apparently Michael told him that he didn’t want the German flag on it any more as everyone now knew he was German, so after a few changes it was scrapped completely.
One nice thing was that he was very honest and knew that people didn’t like what he was doing, as most people like to see a driver keep the same helmet throughout their career but his argument was that it’s one of the rare chances for a driver to show their personality nowadays.
Here are my photos including some of the helmets being painted – http://www.redbull.com/en/motorsports/f1/stories/1331579592309/behind-the-scenes-at-jmd
I spent most of the day with Jens and we chatted for quite a long time, so if you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer.
Thought you guys might find this an interesting topic :)9th December 2012, 17:51 at 5:51 pm #218703
A great read and what an interesting subject this is. The time and the effort these guys must to go to produce these ‘carbon fibre artworks’ often goes unnoticed, the RoC Vettel helmet must have taken some considerable time to get working?
I would like to have a helmet painted for me in the future but I imagine the cost would be prohibitive!9th December 2012, 18:17 at 6:17 pm #218704
Unfortunately I couldn’t get out of him how much it cost but he said it was a lot! One funny story he did tell me though was about Vettel’s Monaco helmet that had the sequins on. While other drivers had diamonds in their helmets, his cost 1 euro 90 for the sequins.9th December 2012, 19:23 at 7:23 pm #218705
Lol…. it was a very good read but I couldn´t help laughing at the little mermaid part…. The funny thing is that the crab even has the same smile SV has… LOL9th December 2012, 19:25 at 7:25 pm #218706
Great thanks for the write up. Every once in a while I check out his site to take a look at his brilliant art, so I’m pretty thrilled to have read this.9th December 2012, 19:34 at 7:34 pm #218707
Great article and inside… congrats in a job well done…
Maybe is because I´m a girl but I love the idea of changing helmets… Is like having new shoes, you wait every week to see how they/it looks like… ;)…
I found the bit about the crab really cute…9th December 2012, 22:51 at 10:51 pm #218708
Haha yeah, I don’t actually mind him changing it either I think it’s pretty cool. Would be boring to just have a Red Bull can helmet so it’s cool that he customises it.
The crab thing was pretty funny. Jens actually designed this helmet for Seb when he was 8 as word around Germany was that he was going to be the next Michael Schumacher. Looks like they were right…10th December 2012, 2:55 at 2:55 am #218710
I was tinking in how weird it should be makin a helmet with a Disney character for a 8 year old, and 17 years later he is 3 times champion of the world and you are still making his helmets…
Somehow the story of Sebastian Vettel touch with destiny is getting cooler and cooler in my opinion…10th December 2012, 5:30 at 5:30 am #218711
@tommyb89 You mentioned in your article that Vettel retires his helmet after each race he wins, but how about one-off designs for races that he doesn’t win, e.g. his USGP helmet design? Does that retirement-upon-win rule only apply for “regular” designs?10th December 2012, 9:43 at 9:43 am #218712
@codesurge I don’t know about that to be honest. I’m guessing so though as he wouldn’t race at say Spa with “Monaco” written on his helmet.
@celeste Obviously this is just one persons opinion but Jens told me that someone like Rosberg never seems to appear on German TV, he never gets requests for replica helmets from him or anything. He thinks it’s because people like the “X-factor” story, Rosberg was brought up in Monaco by his F1 driver Dad while Vettel’s story is (similar to Hamilton’s) of his Dad working two jobs to fund his karting career and has gone from a regular kid with a dream to F1 champion.10th December 2012, 12:02 at 12:02 pm #21871310th December 2012, 12:56 at 12:56 pm #218714
Well as humans we like the Rocky Balboa complex… I mean the underdog without money who made it againts the odds to become a champion…
And somehow Vettel/Hamilton/Schumacher had a very compelling history to tell about the way they wotk until they became champion…
Beside I kind of think that Rosberg is the least german of all the german drivers on F1 right now, maybe Timo or Hulk are more popular…10th December 2012, 13:11 at 1:11 pm #218715
Dont forget however that Rosberg is Finnish and Rosberg is German ;)
You mentioned on Twitter @tommyb89 about teaching Jens something new about SV. What was that? Could have been me being blind but saw no reference to it anywhere else :)10th December 2012, 14:38 at 2:38 pm #218716
@codesurge @tommyb89 I don’t think he retires the one-off designs completely if he doesn’t win in them; I know I’ve seen him wear them during practice sessions, at least, on subsequent race weekends. For example, he definitely wore his British GP helmet during practice in a later race weekend this season.13th December 2012, 14:43 at 2:43 pm #218717
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