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Valentino Rossi’s best MotoGP helmet designs

Autosport logo Autosport 13/11/2021 Lewis__Duncan
Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT © Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images Valentino Rossi, Petronas Yamaha SRT

Amassing 432 grand prix starts as of lights out on Sunday in Valencia, 115 wins – 89 of which coming in MotoGP – 199 podiums and nine world titles with seven coming in the premier class, Rossi has captivated the hearts of millions of motorsport fans for over two decades.

As well as his on-track achievements, Rossi’s character shone through and was a major driving force in the growth of motorcycle racing in the 21st Century.

Part of that character shone through in his numerous helmet designs over the years.

Ahead of Rossi’s final MotoGP outing, the Autosport team has chosen what it considers to be his best helmet designs from over the years.

Valentino Rossi, Yamah Factory Racing © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Yamah Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi, Yamah Factory Racing

Photo by: Bridgestone Corporation

Wish you were here – Misano 2013 

Lewis Duncan: MotoGP’s subsequent returns to Misano following the death of Marco Simoncelli have always been a poignant moment for Valentino Rossi. And for the 2013 San Marino GP, he unveiled a touching tribute to his dear, late friend.

Having been reminded of Simoncelli when listening to Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, Rossi ran a helmet featuring the artwork of Pink Floyd’s 1975 album and lyrics from the song. It is perhaps Rossi’s most heartfelt tribute helmet design.

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

Photo by: Martin Heath / Motorsport Images

Donkey – Misano 2009

LD: Rossi’s return to his home race at Misano always brought with it a special helmet design. At the preceding Indianapolis Grand Prix in 2009, Rossi crashed out while holding a comfortable lead.

When he arrived at Misano, Rossi unveiled a helmet design with the donkey from Shrek on it – and his traditional ‘The Doctor’ replaced by ‘The Donkey’ on the back of it - in a personal dig at making ‘an ass’ of himself in America. He duly righted this wrong by winning in front of his home crowd that weekend.

For all the fragile egos involved in sport, it was his own ability to mock himself which truly made him unique in the world of sport.

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

Photo by: Motorsport Images

Time to wake up – Misano 2010 

LD: The 2010 season had been difficult for Rossi, with a leg break at Mugello ruling him out of four races and scuppering his title hopes.

Now facing questions about whether his time had passed having not won since round one, Rossi returned to Misano with the Aldo Drudi-designed clock helmet. It was part joke, a jab at Rossi’s own poor timekeeping, but also held a deeper message: it was time to wake up and start winning again.

He would stand on the podium that weekend, and would eventually win again in Malaysia later that year.

Valentino Rossi with a special helmet © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi with a special helmet

Valentino Rossi with a special helmet

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

All heart - Misano 2007

German Gracia Casanova: Rossi realised that his greatest strength came from the large number of fans he brought to the races and in 2007 he wanted to pay tribute to his fans with the 'all heart' helmet, symbolising his love for the fans.

The design may not be the most spectacular, but it was the first helmet Valentino threw to his fans in the stands, something he had not done before and only repeated this year at Misano with a design repeating the heart in the centre of the helmet.

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team leads from Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team and Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team leads from Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team and Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team leads from Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro Team and Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Martin Heath / Motorsport Images

Face of Speed - Mugello 2008

GGC: Of all the helmets designed by Aldo Drudi for Rossi, the one that caused the biggest surprise when he unveiled it on Friday morning in the pit lane was undoubtedly the one with his speed face.

Rossi explained that Drudi had asked him to fake the expression on his face as he reached 340km/h at the San Donato braking point, the most impressive point on the track for the riders. It is undoubtedly the most spectacular and memorable design.

Haydn Cobb: Not many could get away with putting their own face on their helmet, but for his home race in 2008 that’s exactly when Valentino Rossi did.

Rossi’s helmet designer Aldo Drudi asked what face he makes behind the visor when racing around the iconic Mugello circuit and his reaction became the design.

It takes extra significance as it was Rossi’s helmet for his last Italian GP win – not that he or his fans would have known it at the time.

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

Little Nemo - Misano 2015

GGC: The 2015 Misano helmet design was the most prescient of Rossi’s career, coming into that race leading the World Championship by 12 points from Jorge Lorenzo.

The helmet depicted the iconic image from the movie Nemo, where the 'evil' shark Bruce chased the little fish, which represented Rossi being chased by Lorenzo. In the end the story ended badly for Nemo-Rossi, who was swallowed by the shark Lorenzo.

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

The Viagra pill - Misano 2020 

HC: Possibly Rossi’s cheekiest helmet, the Italian sported a Viagra-themed design for the 2020 San Marino GP.

The top of the helmet featured one of the little blue pills with ‘VR46’ printed on it and on the back one of the pills has been emptied from a packet of four.

Rossi said it was a way to give him more energy having turned 41, but less than 12 months later the Italian announced he was expecting his first child with partner Francesca Sofia Novello, which proved maybe the pill did work as planned.

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Back to Misano - Misano 2018 

Oriol Puigdemont: If we consider that Back to the Future is one of my all-time favourite movie series, the fact that Valentino Rossi - the most influential rider in the history of the MotoGP World Championship - was inspired by it for the decoration of one of his helmets was inevitably going to be one of my favourites.

The Doctor, who had missed the race in front of his home crowd the previous year when he broke his leg in a training incident, dressed himself up as Marty McFly and Silvano Galbusera, then his technical manager, as the popular Doc Emett Brown.

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

Valentino Rossi, Fiat Yamaha Team

Photo by: Martin Heath / Motorsport Images

Five continents helmet – 2008-2010

LD: Though Rossi is known famously for his one-off helmet designs, one of his most striking lids was the primary one he used from 2008 through to the end of his final season of his first stint with Yamaha in 2010.

Used in his final two title-winning years in 2008 and 2009, the eye-popping five continents design signified the five continents MotoGP raced on at the time while incorporating Rossi’s iconic sun and moon imagery.

Designed by Aldo Drudi, it remains a fan favourite to this day.

Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda © Autosport.com Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda

Valentino Rossi, Repsol Honda

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Peace/Barry Sheene tribute – 2003 pre-season testing

LD: While most of Rossi’s helmet designs have been tinged with humour, he unveiled a much more down-to-earth design for pre-season testing in 2003.

Featuring all the colours of the rainbow and with ‘Peace’ written in Italian, the helmet was Rossi voicing his opposition to the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by US and British forces.

The helmet also feature the number seven of double 500cc world champion Barry Sheene, who tragically died of cancer early in 2003.

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