By Alan Baldwin
SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - A competition to design Lewis Hamilton's 2017 helmet has been won by a Brazilian who incorporated a tribute to Ayrton Senna in it along with three stars for the Formula One titles won by both the late Brazilian and Briton.
Hamilton, who will unveil his new Mercedes race car to the world at Silverstone on Thursday, announced Rai Caldato, a professional designer, as the winner to his 3.8 million Instagram followers.
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"Rai evolves my layout by adding new stripe elements on the sides. As a tribute to my hero, Ayrton Senna, the helmet features the colors of Brazil -- green, yellow and blue," said the 32-year-old.
"These are accompanied with the three stars that represent my Championship wins.
"There's yellow throughout that reminds me of my helmets in the past. The candy apple red balances with the yellow very well," he added.
The design had 52,000 'likes' within four hours.
Hamilton challenged fans last month to design his race helmet for the season starting in Australia on March 26, with the winner meeting the driver and receiving a full-size replica.
Hamilton is the clear pre-season favorite following the surprise retirement of German team mate and world champion Nico Rosberg last month.
He has changed his helmet design several times over the years, racing with a yellow helmet in tribute to Senna in his early years and at McLaren. The colors changed when he moved to Mercedes in 2013.
Under Formula One's regulations, a driver's helmet design must be substantially the same for the entire season -- to ensure drivers can be distinguished easily -- but one special version is allowed at a race of his choosing.
(Editing by Clare Fallon)