You may have wondered why Formula 1 cars have so many buttons on the steering wheel and if you already knew, here’s your chance to check out the steering wheel for the forthcoming season. Mercedes have just revealed their design for the new cars’ steering wheels and explained the changes made from previous seasons.
[Image Source: Mercedes]
The OLED screen is new to this season and allows the driver to see a greater deal of information in a much more accessible format – previous years featured an LED display much like old calculators. It is fully configurable by the driver to display what they desire and also allows the team to inform the driver of anything that needs to be known immediately, alongside the radio audio contact available.
The design is more compact than before and more importantly it’s lighter – every kilogram counts in the most advanced race series in the world. The use of power assisted steering allows for the small size of the steering wheel by reducing the amount of force that needs to be transmitted by the wheel itself. The device will be installed according to the drivers personal preferences, such as space behind the wheel, moulded grips and button colours.
The wheel takes about 6 weeks to manufacturer from start to finish and required 24 man hours of servicing between races . Mercedes will take three wheels per driver to each race which will be ‘modified to suit different settings or preferences throughout the year.’
Below is Mercedes guide to the features of the 2014 steering wheel:
Left and right lights (FIA standard for red flag, yellow flag, blue flag) Top lights (Configurable, but generally used as gear shift lights)
There are a total of nine rotary switches on the wheel. Three are rotary dials, while the remaining six are configured as thumb wheels. The latter allow the driver to make changes to the settings without taking their hand off the wheel.
Menu Rotary (Middle) – Allows up to 15 different rotary switches to be able to change multiple configurations in one place, including tyre switches to adjust for the different compounds, for example
HPP Rotary (Right) – Used to control a large number of Power Unit settings, such as energy management during the race or MGU-K settings
Strategy Rotary (Left) – Enables adjustment of strategy settings during a session, including the way energy is recovered / deployed, for example
The right-hand thumb wheels are used for differential adjustment to change the locking torque at different phases of a corner: mid, entry and high-speed The left-hand thumb wheels are used as brake settings for both brake balance and engine braking: adjusting the pedal map and other settings
BB- / BB+ – Brake-by-wire management (adjusting the brake balance down / up) OT – The ‘overtake’ buttonN – Neutral+10 / +1 – Multifunctional switches, located in an optimal position
Radio – Activated the driver to engineer radioDRS – Operates the DRS flapLimiter – Engages the pit lane limiterMarker – Used to identify a point of interest in the data as indicated by the driverPC/R – Confirms pit entry by sending an automated alert to the garage. This allows the crew to prepare for the arrival of a car, regardless of whether it’s been indicated on the radio that the driver is coming in
One of the most technically complicated parts of Formula 1 cars is the connector between the steering wheel and the car itself as it must be able to cope with the steering forces whilst also providing the electrical connections between the wheel and car. On top of this, the FIA require that the driver can get fully out of the car within 5 seconds.