Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004

Helmet camera a focus of Schumacher investigation

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004In the round-up: The investigation into Michael Schumacher’s skiing crash which left him in a coma is looking into his helmet camera’s role in the impact.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Did helmet camera cause head injuries? (The Telegraph)

“Investigators believe that they may have found a reason for the seriousness of the crash. They think that his helmet camera could have actually worsened the blown, and caused the helmet to shatter into pieces.”

Building the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix Circuit (Australian Grand Prix via YouTube)



Comment of the day

@Matt90 addresses some of Jacques Villeneuve’s recent criticisms of Formula One:

I have to say that Villeneuve seems to be over-doing it a bit. I’d rather he focused on DRS and the super-duper-mega-bonus-points-finale-extravaganza with more detail and reasoning than keep coming back to take repeated jabs at the sport which I reckon he is still a bit sore to have been excluded from.

There were turbo days with over 1,000 horsepower and now we’re down to ridiculously low horsepower.

Is that not a poor simplification? Does that make 1988 and following seasons much worse than those preceding them? With ERS this year’s engines aren’t going to be much less powerful than last year, but they’ll have far more torque anyway. Significantly, combined power should be the same or greater than Villeneuve’s championship-winning Williams…

There were turbo days with over 1,000 horsepower and now we’re down to ridiculously low horsepower. I don’t know, I really don’t get it. They’re barely faster than GP2 and they have a hard time beating our lap times from 1997 so something is wrong.

First off, on the few tracks which are near enough unchanged, 2013 F1 cars were 2-5 seconds quicker in terms of pole (and often fastest lap as well) when compared to 1997. That doesn’t sound like a ‘hard time beating’ them. I could perhaps forgive this comment from Villeneuve if he was talking about average race pace due to nursing tyres. But he explicitly links it to modern engine power, which suggests that he is indeed talking about outright lap time.

If he’s talking about 2014 cars in general (which it doesn’t sound like anyway, as he isn’t using the future tense to indicate teams will struggle this year only), then he needs to realise that a substantial aerodynamic and engine change is obviously going to slow the cars down to begin with, as similar changes often have in F1.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

1994 F1 seasonThe Arrows team revealed its FA15 chassis for the 1994 season on this day 20 years ago. The team reverted to its previous name having competed as Footwork between 1991 and 1993.

Christian Fittipaldi, the only one of the team’s two drivers to be confirmed at that point, shook down the new car at Silverstone.

Meanwhile Pacific, one of the two new entrants for the forthcoming season, gave their first F1 car its maiden run at Snetterton on the same day. Their two drivers Bertrand Gachot and Paul Belmondo each sampled the PR01.

Image © Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

64 comments on “Helmet camera a focus of Schumacher investigation”

  1. I had never thought about that. Thinking about it, having a big camera in your helmet can’t do good. Well, at least the helmet wasn’t designed with Go Pros in mind.

    That’s really unfortunate.

    1. I find a bit hard to believe that the camera didn’t break but the helmet did.
      Also we don’t know how it was mounted, if they drilled holes to secure it then that would have definitely weakened the helmet.

      1. I use helmet cams for motorcycle riding, and they are (mine, anyway) mounted with adhesive tabs. No drilling required. And as you implied, it would be very unlikely for the camera to come away unscathed if it had been involved in the initial impact.

        1. I used to work at cadwell park and we didnt allow helmet cameras for this very reason. A helmet impacting with tarmac, mud, tyers or armco usually has a much larger surface area than a camera, which can act as a skewer and with the force of the crash sent through what is essentialy a very small surface area, pierce the helmet like a dart tip.

          It was a preventative mesure more than anything, eliminating unnecessary risk. Although I have not heard of any examples of this actually happening, similar sized things like handlebar ends, footpegs and various bits of damaged bikes I have heard the horror stories from first hand witnesses. Fortunately for me in the 5 years i worked there there were no fatalities (except ben gautree on the superbike weekend I took my holiday).

          1. Thanks for that insight Mike!

          2. Interestingly, the snowboarding at Socchi featured helmet cameras. Not an expert, but Michael’s injuries seem to a result of the forces involved, rather than a wounding. Not that that can’t happen and be equally devastating. Good to hear your experience though.

          3. As unlikely as it may be, helmets are on the most part designed for single impact. If the helmet is compromised in any way, say if you drop it on the ground from resting on your petrol tank, you are supposed to throw it in the bin as it may not do its job properly in a real crash now the structure is damaged. Very complex and well designed crash structures. They are made to withstand blunt force trauma, usually like I say a reasonably large surface area. If you hit a helmet with the back of a spade, chances are the helmet will take the blow fairly well and seem mostly intact. If you hit the same helmet with the same amount of force using a pickaxe or a hammer the results would be very different because of the amount of pressure per mm squared on the surface of the helmet, meaning the force of the impact on the contact patch would be multiplied copiously. And go pro cameras are very tough pieces of kit. Its like having a rock taped to your helmet, so no matter where you fall, you will always hit that rock with your head.

      2. I saw a clip of a go pro falling of a plane. In the end, it landed between pigs, who sniffed at it.
        So to me, it’s a logical story – still a tragedy.

      3. @mantresx the article states

        “The helmet smashed – but the camera he had attached to it, in order to record him and his son skiing, was undamaged”

        The camera could well have been a factor. Perhaps they need to design cameras to be less robust, so that they would crumple before damaging or piercing the helmet.

    2. I’m a bit surprised if that is the case, as I would think the camera would simply break from its mounts in a violent impact.

    3. @fer-no65 – just b/c the helmet shattered or broke-up doesn’t mean it failed. In fact, exactly how those helmets typically work (said w/o recalling exactly which brand and model MS was wearing) is to absorb and dissipate energy by compressing and – sometimes – breaking/cracking/fracturing.

      While a helmet left in pieces can be a sign of an especially heavy impact, this is to me exactly what one would expect from such a serious impact against a point-localized obstacle like…a rock.

      I mean geeze, they say in the very article:

      “The helmet completely broke. It was in at least two parts. ENSA analysed the piece of the helmet to check the material, and all was OK,” said a source close to the investigation.

      ie, it did what it was intended to do!

      This was written originally for those researching cycling helmets, but the same physics and engineering, biomechanics, and other basic principles apply in the case of a ski/snowboard helmet (no surprise that Giro, for example, makes similar road, MTB and ski/snowboard helmets!):

      Cycle helmets protect the head by reducing the rate at which the skull and brain are accelerated or decelerated by an impact. The helmet acts like a shock absorber. As it is impacted, the expanded polystyrene liner is intended to crush, dissipating the energy over a rapidly increasing area like a cone.

      Helmets reduce the force of an impact only while the polystyrene liner is compressing. Once the liner is fully compacted, a helmet offers no further protection and passes residual energy straight on to the skull and brain. There is no evidence to suggest that helmets continue to provide a reduced level of brain protection beyond their design limits.

      When helmets fail, they do so catastrophically, rather than gradually, by breaking. The breaking of a helmet is not by itself evidence that it has provided useful protection to the wearer. It is common for cycle helmets to fail prematurely, before the polystyrene liner has been fully crushed. Indeed, very often helmets break without the liner compressing at all, perhaps because they have been subjected to oblique forces, not directed at the head, that they are not designed to withstand. If a helmet breaks without its liner compressing, it is likely that no more than superficial protection would have been afforded.

      In cases of high impact, such as most crashes that involve a motor vehicle, the initial forces absorbed by a cycle helmet before breaking are only a small part of the total force and the protection provided by a helmet is likely to be minimal in this context. In cases where serious injury is likely, the impact energy potentials are commonly of a level that would overwhelm even Grand Prix motor racing helmets. Cycle helmets provide best protection in situations involving simple, low-speed falls with no other party involved. They are unlikely to offer adequate protection in life-threatening situations.

  2. Make the most of your Mercedes, Kevin, because the car you’re given next year may not be in Accord-ance to your expectations.

    I’ll get my coat.

    1. @deej92 – It’s by the door on the left :P

    2. Next year will Kevin be able to Fit time in his schedule to perform his Civic duty and answer more fan tweets?

      1. These are awful, where’s your Integra-ty gone?

        1. This is Prelude-acris…

          1. Prelud-icrous?

          2. And wonderfully Insight-ful.

          3. keep it Civic, guys))

          4. Them grid girls though, very NSXy

    3. And Kevin, make sure no one has saab-otaged your tyres before your flight to melbourne…

      1. Oh, Ford’a love of God…

        1. :D Genius comments from all of you :D

          1. I’d have Forti we was beyond all this….

        2. Well I’m on the UP and you should all take NOTE of how AYGO down the Quashqi-and-carry!

    4. Maybe they will give him this:

      Should be acceptable I think.

    5. Accord or Accura RLX ????? That is the maximum Honda can Offer.

      Unless Kevin likes the FIT or Ridgeline :)

    6. I’ve genuinely enjoyed reading all of these Today! They’ve really Inspire-d some humour!

    7. @deej92 We have to wait till 2015 for some more Clarity on this.

  3. I suppose that’s what happens when you put a camera designed to be tough as nails on your helmet designed to protect your head. In a freak direct impact, one has to give and it sounds like the helmet faired worse. I never thought about it when I had my GoPro on my motorbike helmet but I don’t think I’ll be putting it on my bicycle helmet now. Speedy recovery to Schumi.

  4. You’d think a Mclaren driver would drive a Mclaren. Do you think its because the Mclarens are bad?

    Also wish they would flipping release the Shumi camera recording already. Want to see some of that action take place.

    1. You wish they would release the camera footage? For the action? Please tell me I am reading that incorrectly….or am I missing somthing?

    2. Not much room for the things like your bag with kit, helmet and stuff to change into for training in a racing car. And with the current weather in the UK, I doubt driving a sportscar is much more fun than a normal sedan in daily traffic!

    3. I’m pretty sure Lewis and Jenson have both been papped driving ‘company car’ 12c’s.

      Maybe McLaren want Kevin to spend a year earning his wings.

    4. That’s a pretty ghoulish thing to wish for :(

  5. Wow so much work goes into setting up for the Melbourne Grand Prix and it’s only a half points race.

    1. hahahaha COTD!!!!

    2. Never looked at it that way. Bravo COTD

    3. Priceless. COTD +1

    4. XD LOL … COTD . If only Bernie could read this .

    5. @mattc888 I really hope the winner of the Australian GP says something like that during the post-race press conference. Not to diss the GP, just to draw attention to the ridiculous rule in a way that would be difficult to ignore. Sadly i think the likely contenders will be a bit too PR savy to go for it ;)

  6. Brian Gefrich
    17th February 2014, 1:26

    There’s a great way to see the transformation to Albert Park in reverse, via Google Maps.
    Start here, right before the turn onto the start/finish straight. Besides the cars and walkers, it’s pretty much set up in race trim.

    Use the arrows and click/dragging with the mouse to navigate onto the straight and watch it miraculously transform into the non-race version. It’s pretty cool.

    1. Very nice!

  7. ok, so from everything I’ve read about Schumacher, he skied into a rock which caused him to “fall”, to only hit another rock with his head, but in a way that his helmet cam was at the right place to first take the impact and cause the helmet to shatter exposing his head to the rock itself??? What are the odds of this? Talk about bad bad luck. :-(

    I really hope he finally gets good luck and pulls through!

    1. you’re misinterpreting what happened, i believe. No suggestion that the helmet “failed” and fell away before there was the near-fatal impact (Which you suggest was flesh/skull on rock).

      there’s no justification for suggesting the helmet increased the severity of the injuries, unless they can show that its presence somehow channeled and localized all of the energy into the area of helmet b/w camera and skull, but inhibited the dissipation of this energy and prevented the deformation of the compressible interior layer – resulting in full transfer of impact forces into scrambling Michael’s brain.

      People want something to blame for this horrendous accident, hence why now we’re talking this silly helmet-cam “theory”, when all signs are that Schumacher is only alive BECAUSE he was wearing a helmet.

  8. @ Keith Isn’t the driver’s correct name “Paul Alexandre Belmondo” in the section?

    1. I suspect there’s been some confusion between Paul Belmondo (the ex-Pacific F1 driver) and his father Jean-Paul Belmondo (who, as a French film star from the 1960s, is probably more famous than his son).

    2. @lucien_todutz @timg Corrected it, thanks.

  9. The long range weather forecast for Melbourne tonight on the news has it being fairly wet for the the remainder of February into mid March. So it could be that Melbourne is affected by rain. Hope at least Qualifying is dry enough. I remember last year standing out in the pouring rain with my 8 year old fellow Fanatic waiting for the next 20min delay to pass.
    Well this year we are in the grand stands so at least we wont get as muddy…

    1. I live in Melbourne, and the one thing you can’t rely on is the long range, short range or any weather forecasts. When they say its going to be raining, it’ll be sunny with isolated showers, when they say its isolated showers, it will be raining, and when they say it’ll be sunny, it will be hailing…. Melbourne is famous for 4 seasons in 1 day weather… We’ve just come out of a real heat wave, 40 degree days last week. I’m thankful for the change, to mid to high 20’s but you can never know, as we’ve got 11 degrees forecast for Thursday night o.O

      1. Don’t i know it! Hopefully the rain will stop any further bush fires for the rest of the season.

    2. I can just see it now, after a particularly rainy qualifying session, the media reporting “2014 formula 1 cars 12 seconds per lap slower than GP2!”. Villeneuve will have a field day at least ;)

  10. Its funny to see a youtube clip of a piece of road I use to drive every day (except during construction of the F1) for 5 years to get to work. Now I work 5km’s away and although I don’t get to see the gradual transformation, I do get to witness it’s full glory when the F1 Circus is in town, and you can even hear the cars from my work 5km’s away.
    To me, the Melbourne GP is very special, there is a restaurant called The Point that sits on the infield of the circuit and that is where I had my wedding reception, who can say they get to do a lap in a limo around a grand prix track on their wedding day! In any case, Melbourne GP, whether it stays or goes, will always be a very special place to me.

    1. Wonder if you’ll be able to hear the cars from 5 km away this year?

    2. @dragoll I truly truly envy you, not only because you have an F1 track around the corner, but because you can actually go around and visit when there’s no race (and it’s a very nice park too).
      The closest ones I have are COTA (1000km) and Hermanos Rodríguez (1400km) hehe.

  11. Jose Sanchez kowalsky
    17th February 2014, 10:20

    Poor michael, its looking bad for him.
    Neurosugeon chief of Ramón y Cajal hospital un Madrid, said yestarday that if the waking up process was going well, michael should be already awake and without sedation. He also said, that with all the time he has been in a coma, brain damage due to the situación is very high.

  12. After hearing how Renault has a whole lot to solve, oh and Red Bull has a some minor things to work on as well, its refreshing to finally hear them admit that those “minor” things are not all that tiny after all. Newey in Autosport

    Newey, Red Bull’s chief technical officer, confirmed that the team’s major problem was the heat of the exhaust setting fire to bodywork, which came on top of the issues that afflicted all three Renault teams that ran at Jerez.
    “Hands up on our side, that was a Red Bull problem,” said Newey.
    “It was, you could argue, a result of aggressive packaging but we felt that we needed to take a few risks to try to get a good package that would minimise the aerodynamic damage of this very large cooling requirement.
    “The Renault seems to have a particularly large cooling requirement.
    Adrian Newey and Christian Horner”Everybody of the three engine manufacturers will have a different target for how hot their charge air is going back into the plenum and Renault have given us a fairly challenging target.

    So its quite possible that what Red Bull are annoyed about is having the engine that seems to require them to cut the biggest holes in their car for cooling that brought up the talk about maybe switching engine to Mercedes in the future (once McLaren go Honda)

  13. As I watch the high speed skiing event in the Sochi Olympics , it is hard not to remember Schumi’s accident.

    The other day I was watching the Alphine Skiing ladies combined event. Due to the higher temperatures on the downhill there was lot of challenges in completing a single run. The way the skiers were slipping and falling makes the whole stuff very scary.

  14. Regarding Cotd of @matt90 I disagree on several fronts. JV does not “keep coming back to take repeated jabs”. He is present on a regular basis as a commentator and pundit in magazines. He is asked his opinions all the time. And his “repeated jabs” are, you will find, consistent with what most fans think. He has lately had big issues with lottery tires that fall off a cliff. And DRS of course. Also, JV will have put any “soreness” he might have felt behind him long ago.

    Also, JV is obviously speaking of the new engines and the trends in F1. And one of the trends is that not all the HP is available to the drivers at all times.

    JV is controversial, and has never been afraid to speak his own mind and tell it like he sees it. What I find interesting is that most around here have been very critical of F1 and it’s direction, yet as soon as someone like JV agrees with what most people were already saying, suddenly some are coming to F1’s defense. That said, I still don’t here anyone coming to the defense of DRS and double points, which to me greatly diminish the product even if the new cars and the new racing is much improved.

    1. I agreed with him until he started making up nonsense about power and speed. That’s when what he was saying seemed to transcend from valid comment to an agenda. That is why I have a problem. If he limited what he was saying to the real issues which, as you say, many fans have a problem with, that would be fine. He discredits his own argument by commenting on what I highlighted in my COTD.

      That said, I still don’t here anyone coming to the defense of DRS and double points, which to me greatly diminish the product even if the new cars and the new racing is much improved.

      That’s because you’re right and they are terrible. That isn’t what JV was talking about in the comments I dissected though.

      And one of the trends is that not all the HP is available to the drivers at all times.

      I don’t remember F1 cars in the ’90s having maximum power at any revs either.

  15. Is it normal for there to be a formal investigation when somebody has a skiing accident? I hadn’t heard of any suspicion of foul play. Would they be investigating if it wasn’t Michael Schumacher?

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