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  • F1 STEERING WHEEL – PART 1

    Mercedes GP Petronas Steering Wheel.

    Today, a steering wheel is a complex electronic device that allows the driver to control a vast amount of car settings. The teams often assign one engineer that is responsible for its electronics and the design so that the drivers can use it comfortably. For that reason, today’s handles of a steering wheel are anatomically formed and made of hard rubber that provides extra grip for the driver’s hands. The main part of the wheel however is constructed, just like almost every car part, of carbon fiber to reduce its weight.

    Lotus Racing Steering Wheel.

    The manufacture of any part on a Formula 1 car is a complex process, and the steering wheel is no exception. Various lightweight materials are used for its production, including the before mentioned carbon fiber and rubber with aluminium, titanium, steel and plastic. A complete steering wheel can take approximately 100 hours to produce from start to finish.

    OVERVIEW.

    The steering wheel is the driver’s primary interface with his car. Apart from the obvious use of actually steering the car around the circuit, the wheel is a complex and highly technical piece of equipment which gives the driver the information that he needs to drive the car and the facility to tune the car for various situations as they arise out on track.

    Renault F1 Steering Wheel.

    Although there is a constant stream of data from the car to the pits which allows the engineers to monitor the car’s health, only the driver can actually change any settings once the car is on the track. A few years ago, the regulations permitted ‘two-way telemetry’ which allowed data to be sent from the pit to the car, for example mixture modes changes or changes from dry to wet conditions, however this facility was subsequently removed for cost reasons. Now the driver himself has to make any required changes when the car is not in the pits.

    Like most of the parts of the car, the main body of the steering wheel is made from carbon fibre. The hand grips can be trimmed in alcantara (a versatile composite material composed of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane!) or rubber depending on the preference of the driver. The positioning of the switches is also down to driver choice and each driver will have his preferred layout.

    At Grand Prix weekends, each driver will have a minimum of three steering wheels available so there is always a spare on hand should there be any issues.

    The steering wheel is designed and manufactured in-house by the team. The only part which we do not produce is the display element which is part of the standard electronics package that all teams are required to use. If you see any onboard camera shots looking over a driver’s shoulder, you will recognise the same part in all of the cars. The display can be built into the steering wheel as we do or some teams prefer to mount it to the edge of the cockpit itself.

    FORMULA ONE STEERING WHEEL.

    1 Information from the FIA and the marshals (such as a yellow flag)
    2 N = Neutral
    3 D = Drink button
    4 Pr = Problem (leaves a cookie on the data acquisition system)
    5 Diag X = Deactivate sensor
    6 BB = Brake balance
    7 Ack = Acknowledge
    8 Box = Pit stop
    9 BP = Bite point of the clutch
    10 Diag Y = Deactivate sensor
    11 R = Radio button
    12 BO = Boost (extra revs to overtake)
    13 PL = Pit lane speed limiter
    14 Preload = Basic differential setting
    15 Setting of the differential at the entry of a corner
    16 Setting of the differential at the exit of a corner
    17 Cruise = Cruise control when running behind the Safety Car
    18 RPM = Max revs of the engine
    19 Tyres = To confirm tyre choice for next pit stop
    20 Clutch
    21 Fuel = To adjust fuel mixture
    22 Pedal = To adjust the sensitivity of the throttle
    23 Left paddle, to change one gear down
    24 Right paddle, to change one gear up
    25 Two hand controlled clutch paddles

    Force India Steering Wheel.

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