Formula 1 steering wheels are always intriguing to me. They are control panels for a myriad of computers and a hub for just as many, if not more sensors on the cars themselves. As you’ll see in the following pictures, the wheels can be some what simple to straight up manic with the amount of knobs and switches on them. The most extraordinary part of these wheels? The drivers are constantly playing with them while at speeds. Some speeds deep into the triple digits. There’s not much more I can say than most people already have written articles about or made YouTube videos about. The only thing most of these articles and videos don’t bring up is their size. They’re relatively small, some teams don’t use full size ones either. The Red Bulls actually have a small dash with the controls on the wheel itself.
In that picture above you can see the dash, tach, gear indicator, and what other information the driver, in that case Vettel, would like to see while he’s driving. Some times the actual RPMs are shown, some times it’s just the rev counter itself. These wheels are built to fit the drivers’ hands as well. Diferent grips, different places for the paddles to shift the car, as well as a paddle on each side for neutral to be used during pit stops. A neat thing to toss in is the KERS and DRS buttons. We’ll start with the DRS button first, it is placed on the steering wheel in some place to make it easy for the driver to hit to open the flap. They don’t typically have to worry about it coming down because it happens automatically when they hit the brakes.
Now onto the KERS operation, some of the steering wheels, even the cars, are setup different to use KERS. Some cars have a button to control the harvesting of the kinetic energy, some cars do it automatically. Where as some other cars have a button to use KERS for as long as the button as held. Or some of the more crazy drivers will have a knob that turns to set the amount of KERS used on the press of the button. Now me personally, if I was an F1 driver, I’d rather have the setup where the car harvests it automatically and I can just use it for as long as I hold down the button.
In some really sad news, Patrick Head has decided to step away from his F1 duties at Williams. Patrick Head and Frank Williams were innovators in F1 for the longest time. From the side skirt cars to the active suspension that brought Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost their world championships with Williams. The FW14 and the FW15 and their variants all came from his mind with the help of Adrian Newey.
Good luck in all of your endeavors with Williams Patrick. Especially with the hybrid systems!