F1 for beginners: How does the steering wheel work?
The Formula 1 steering wheel is like the driver's office and along with the brake and accelerator, it's one of only three ways you can interact with the car. Everything that the pilots learn during their training, from karting to reaching Formula 1, has been operating with the wheel. Let's take a look at its functions:
The FIA does not have a regulation imposed on the design of steering wheels, so despite fulfilling the same functions, each one has its own variants. Today we are going to focus on the team steering wheel Mercedes.
The main materials that the Formula 1 steering wheel is made of are: carbon fiber, fiberglass, silicon, titanium and copper. The grips are rubber coated and are specially molded to the rider's hands.
In the center of the steering wheel, the display is located where the driver receives important data about what the power unit is doing, the information that comes from the pits and everything that you need to know to drive the car.
The steering wheel moves only in two directions in a rotary manner and if we look at its
surface, we can see that everything is within reach of the driver's thumbs. p>
What function does each button have?
On the one hand, we have the DRS (Drag Reduction System) button that opens and close the flap of the rear wing. On the other, the buttons called "Driver Defaults", so that if something goes wrong in the car, the driver presses this button in order to fix a sensor or whatever is failing.
Then we have the neutral button, which is of little use these days because the pit stops are only 2 seconds, so there is almost no time to use it.
The “Pitlane Speed Limiter” keeps the car exactly at the speed limit of 80 or 60 km/h. In this way, you lose as little time as possible and avoid possible penalties.
On your right we have the “Pit Confirm”, as a sign that something is going wrong on the track. When the driver presses this button, all the mechanics immediately run out of the garage to fix whatever is needed or change tires.
Next, we have a whole series of rotary switches: the Diff Entry switch, the balance switch and the high speed switch, all areas of differential settings. That is, the amount of torque that is transferred between the sides of the car's rear axle.
Next, we also have a couple of switches to adjust the braking balance of the car: brake balance and brake migration, which translates to a dynamic change in brake balance. the brakes depending on how hard the rider brakes. This will influence the feel you get through the pedal.
The marker button has no effect on the car but gives the team a signal that something is happening. If the driver senses anything unusual, use this button to alert the team in the pits.
Then we have one of the key buttons: the pass button, which is obviously used during the moments of the race when the maximum possible power is required. p>
The “Talk” button is the radio that refers the team in the pits and is used so that the team can talk to the driver in a conversational way.< /p>
The “Brake Balance” or maximum and minimum brake balance buttons are used to move the brake balance of the car forward or backward. During the span of a lap, the pilot is going to use them in a very dynamic way.
Then we have a whole series of adjustments on the front face, which relate to the tuning of the power unit. Having the engine and power unit in the proper mode is key to good racing performance. This can mean: increase momentum, increase energy recovery or even lower it depending on the case.
But how do pilots interact with the different buttons at 300 km/h? Doing all these operations going at maximum speed is not an easy task. However, it is usually during the calm of the straights that the driver takes his hands off the wheel and manages to make the necessary adjustments.
In the back, we have the upshift and downshift pedals and the clutch pedal that the driver uses to put the car in motion during the start. p>
Flyer design is an ongoing process. During the season, drivers can request changes to the grips and the layout of the buttons and switches, depending on their individual demands and the layout of the track.
Here we see the complete steering wheel:
It certainly covers a lot of things to be aware of and that's why teams often do a lot of simulation work in factories. In this way, they achieve that with practice the protagonists get used to operating it.
And you, did you know all these functions?
Author: Florencia Andersen
Motorsport. 2021. Mercedes redesigns steering wheel to prevent Baku Brake Magic repeat. [online] Available at: <https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/articles/single-seaters/f1/mercedes-make-steering-wheel-changes-to-prevent-baku-brake-magic-repeat> [Accessed 18 August 2021].
Pinterest. nd Mercedes-AMG F1 W09 EQ Power+ steering wheel at Hungarian Grand Prix, Hungaroring - Saturday 28 July 2018. [online] Available at: <https://ar.pinterest.com/pin/709457747525708728/> [Accessed 18 August 2021].
Youtube.com. 2021. Mercedes F1 Steering Wheel EXPLAINED!. [online] Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giWg44Uprb4&t=75s> [Accessed 18 August 2021].