The first driver to be flying the Bulgarian flag on the Formula 3 grid, Nikola Tsolov shows his home pride every time he steps out on track with his helmet design.
Talking us through the look he’s carried with him through the ranks, the ART Grand Prix driver delves into why he’s stands out by keeping things classic and the origins behind his roaring nickname.
“My first helmet was pretty similar to this one with the white, green and red, which is from the Bulgarian flag. It’s always been like that, now is only my fourth year with a painted helmet. I was racing with a white helmet up until that point and it was time for my first design. At first, I wanted to something with a lot of colours and a lot of things on it, but then I though how will I be different to others and how will I be noticed on track?
“If you have a helmet full of colours, when you’re on track, no one can really tell which one you are and know the differences in your helmet. But with this it’s very easy to look from afar and notice who’s driving, so it was just a very classic and very clean design which I like. I’ve just been upgrading it slowly each year. This year, I added some stuff on the top like the cogs. They don’t mean anything, but it adds a little bit more to it instead of just being white.
“Then, obviously I’ve got my sponsors everywhere, which helps a lot to make it full. Also, when it’s just the three colours, it’s very easy to notice all of the sponsors, which is one of the most important things. On the back we’ve got something that means quite a lot to me – it says the Bulgarian lion.
“When I was in karting, I used to do international races and the commentator would come up with nicknames for the drivers that were in front. So, they made my nickname the Bulgarian lion and since then, I’ve decided to make it my thing. I’m now known as that, even in Bulgaria, so it’s really nice.
“Also, the Bulgarian lion comes from our coat of arms which has two lions on the sides. I’m very proud because nobody from my country has done anything like this at this level. I’m really happy to represent them and hopefully be the first Bulgarian Formula 1 driver, so that would be my dream.
“Both Alpine and A14 Management helped me quite a lot. It started off when I was driving for the team Fernando was supporting in karting, so that’s how he noticed me and decided to support me. Then, Alpine have been helping me a lot with making decisions on track. For example, this year I’m very inexperienced and our team boss Julian Rouse has quite a lot of experience, so he knows what to do in every situation. Also, the preparation and training we do comes from them.
“Bell design my helmets. They’re basically like a sponsor for me, so they do my helmets and they paint them, so that’s why it looks so good.
“I think my dream helmet would be pretty similar to this one! I always want to keep it basic with the Bulgarian flag because it’s what I started with and obviously means quite a lot to me. If I make it to Formula 1 as the first Bulgarian, for sure I want to keep the flag. There could be some little changes and upgrades depending on teams and sponsors, but the basics will still be there.”