I created this infographic for Motor Ward and it was almost cathartic reading up and listing what all this controls operated – mind blowing stuff.
1. Front wing flap activation
2. To engage neutral
3. Differential setting for exiting corners
4. Engine Rev Limiter
5. Course Front Flap Adjustment
6. KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) Discharge Unit
7. Recovery Strategy Menu
8. Engine Torque
9. Fuel Mixture Selection
10. Pre-selected Clutch Settings
11. Pit lane Limiter (100kph)
12. KERS activation
13. KERS Charge Adjustment – Gears Down (located behind)
14. Car To Pit Radio
15. Recovery Strategy Scrolling
16. Clutch Paddle
17. Recovery Strategy Accept
18. Engine Kill Switch
19. Clutch Biting Point Selection
20. Race phase Switches
22. Oil Pump
23. Drink Pump To Feed Driver
24. Clutch Paddle
25. Fine Front Flap Adjustment
26. Menu Scroll
27. Gears Up + just to the right: Corner Entry Differential Setting
This took some research to actually find a fairly recent Ferrari F1 steering wheel. I believe this is from Fernando Alonso’s car, and whilst it is recent, technology is constantly moving in F1 so it may have been tweaked… but you get the general idea.
During an F1 race you don’t get to see what’s going on inside the cockpit; however, you do often catch the esoteric radio messages between driver and team.
These messages usually pertain to the multitude of controls on the complex steering wheel. Not only do F1 drivers have to contend with extreme G-forces, but lap after lap they are constantly analysing how the car feels. The tyres start to wear, temperatures and pressures change, and as the fuel burns away, the car becomes lighter. All these factors play a significant role in how the car handles – this means the driver requires an extremely technological steering wheel (costing more than an actual supercar) that can deal with all eventualities.
In the above Infographic, you can see from the amount of controls as to how complicated machine an F1 car is. To give you an idea of what exactly goes on inside the cockpit, we’ve numbered all the controls available to the driver and what they do to enable any car adjustments without having to pit.
So as you can see, the driver can make many mechanical adjustments whilst racing. Pit to car communications are vital in deciding strategy and how the tyres are performing, so the RADIO button is one of the important ones. The driver can even deploy a pump that feeds liquid through a pipe and into the driver’s helmet for re-hydration, extremely important in maintaining hydration and concentration in the stifling conditions.