Formula 1 loves Austin, Texas. This was long before the Drive to Survive phenomenon made the US Grand Prix one of the most attended events in sports history. Last year, the Circuit of the Americas received 400,000 spectators over a three-day race weekend, and this year that number is expected to rise to 440,000. (Watch US Grand Prix Sunday at 1:30 pm ET; live on ABC).

A trip to the Texas capital is marked on the calendars of so many in the paddock. Not only is Austin home to some of the season’s best spectators, it boasts a cuisine and culture that resonates with the drivers, engineers, and most of everyone who makes up this traveling circus.

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Ask any rider on the grid and COTA will inevitably top their list of favorite races, but you don’t have to take their word for it. Look back at the history of this race and every year you’ll find riders celebrating their stay in the live music (and BBQ) capital of the world.

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This year is no different. Racers up and down the grid have been demonstrating new helmet designs for the US Grand Prix all week, almost all of which have the local flavor unmistakable in Austin. So let’s take a look at every flashy new cap at COTA 2022.

Pierre Gasly | AlphaTauri

Whether you grew up on the plains of Texas or on the banks of the Seine, what little kid doesn’t dream of becoming a cowboy? A gold Lone Star State badge set against a white patina base gives Extinguished a look that carries a lot of the vibes of early Westworld seasons.

The 26-year-old French driver is hardly the first tourist to visit Austin and play with the aesthetic, but that doesn’t mean his artists at BS Designs haven’t come up with a strong motif that will resonate with locals.

Max Verstappen | Red Bull

There is a long, long history of riders coming to the US in red, white and blue recreating Captain America and Evel Knievel, but this offer from our newly minted two-time world champion is something else. The idea behind this is fresh, new and fun.

Shapes and designs are the same as Verstappen’s at just about every race he competes in, but what Jens Munser Designs did to make Austin famous is highlight the bold red, white and blue lines that border the COTA essays and turrets. . These features are highlighted by the stars that periodically appear inside these painted strips of tarmac, and also represent the 2021 and 2022 titles that the 25-year-old Dutch rider claimed.

Zhou Guangyu | Alfa Romeo

What’s more Texan—and, by extension, American—than blue jeans? (Although given the temperatures expected in Austin, it’s hard to imagine wearing jeans at COTA this weekend.)

Zhou’s cap draws inspiration from casual American fashion, and the KV Design team earns Alfa Driver Bonus Points for capturing fine details such as the gold embroidery and fabric texture of the blue denim base. The star of this helmet is undoubtedly the Zhou buckle proudly displayed on the back of this bucket of brains.

Esteban Okon | Alpine

Peter Parker hails from Queens, but there’s nothing more American in global pop culture than superheroes, making the US Grand Prix the perfect place to celebrate Spider-Man’s 60th birthday. And in a sport so dependent on reflexes and reaction time, is there a more capable superhero than the Spider?

Anyone who’s watched the Marvel movies lately can tell you that there are endless variations of Spider-Man’s costumes, so consider us thrilled that Okon’s helmet was inspired by the classic bright red, black straps and bright blue accents – even if the Spider-Man logo at the top comes from more modern interpretations.

Lance Stroll | Aston Martin

From boots to guys to belts, leather is everywhere in cowboy culture, which is why you’ll find it in abundance on the streets of Austin and out-of-town ranches. So it makes sense that one of these drivers turned to this material for inspiration for a special version of the Texan.

Designer Mark Antar says Stroll’s look also draws inspiration from Yellowstone, a Western television series set in the late 19th century. The leather texture of this helmet looks outstanding, among this year’s best cap pieces, and the seams create a hyper-realistic feel that needs to be looked into more closely.

Charles Leclerc | ferrari

Ironically, Kansas City is the barbecue capital of the world, but Austin (and the rest of Texas, the Carolinas, and most of Tennessee, among others) have legal claims to that crown. Leclerc and the rest of F1 can count themselves lucky as their star power ensures they never have to wait in hours at Franklin’s when they arrive in town.

You may not know it at first glance, but Leclerc’s helmet is actually barbecue-inspired. Specifically, barbecue sauce. The perfect brisket may be too sacred to be spoiled by any ordinary barbecue sauce off the shelf of your local supermarket, but it’s certainly worthy to pair with your next order of burnt ends.

Mick Schumacher | Haas

As the state’s unofficial anthem suggests, “The stars at night are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas,” as clearly seen on the top of Schumacher’s helmet—a beautiful night sky studded with a galaxy of stars. What’s special about this design is that it’s incredibly personal, in addition to being inspired by the location of this weekend’s race.

The Schumacher family owns a ranch 90 miles north of Dallas, where mom Corinne and sister Gina oversee the show horse training program, and that’s where the sun sets on Mick’s helmet. On the reverse side are a pair of images of Gina, 11-time European and four-time world champion in equestrian sports, riding her horses. As Mick said of his sister’s accomplishments, “I’m a proud little brother.”

Daniel Riccardo | McLaren

A trip to Austin wouldn’t be possible without a hot helmet from the Honey Badger himself, and Ricciardo didn’t let us down in 2022. It could be argued that there is no bigger name in American motorsport than Ricky Bobby and that is exactly who the Australian turned to for inspiration.

With the former Renault and Red Bull employee out of the race for a year in 2023 and McLaren opting to move to Oscar Piastri for next season, Ricciardo is only fitting to adopt Talladega’s Bobby “ME” livery. Nights. And there is perhaps no better line from the movie that sums up both Ricciardo and Bobby than “I want to go fast,” which is proudly printed on the back of the helmet.

Bonus points for all Riccardo’s Talladega Nights quotes, especially the most obscure ones, in his Instagram clip revealing this year’s design.

Sebastian Vettel | Aston Martin

Vettel has spent much of this season trying to raise awareness about environmental issues, from his frequent commentary on climate change to his current bee-saving work, so his embrace of the American hippie past is very similar to the brand. The four-time world champion with a beard and long hair is certainly reminiscent of the days of peace and love.

As well as making money from this cover, this piece of art from Jens Munser Designs is one of the most beautiful in Austin this year. Shaded teal stripes contrasting with mirrored stripes of orange complement each other very nicely, while metallic flake details such as the peace sign and “peace and love” graphic stand out properly against the base color.