The requirement for a new steering wheel design was dictated by the new powertrain for 2014, with particular reference to the new Energy Recovery System. This introduced added complexity and a greater number of parameters for the drivers to think about and manage.
The display on the wheel is new for this year, with more information available to the driver in one place. The previous display was much like a 1970s calculator with a red LED screen, used between 2008 and 2013. The new unit combines modern colours with an OLED display. The benefit of the display is that the driver can configure what parameters are displayed. This can be anything from gear selection to brake balance.
The screen is now essential in allowing the drivers to stay on top of the numerous things they need to manage in the car. It also gives the team the capacity to highlight anything the driver needs to know immediately, in case there is anything that’s safety critical.
The steering wheel is smaller and lighter than last year with a more rectangular shape. Each driver has their own individual preferences and requirements for elements such as space behind the wheel, moulded grips and the colours of the buttons.
- 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’ button
- N – Neutral
- +10 / +1 – Multifunctional switches, located in an optimal position
- Radio – Activated the driver to engineer radio
- DRS – Operates the DRS flap
- Limiter – Engages the pit lane limiter
- Marker – Used to identify a point of interest in the data as indicated by the driver
- PC/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
- It takes around six weeks to build a wheel from start to finish
- The servicing time for a wheel between events is around 24 man hours
- The team will take three wheels for each driver to every race. These are constantly being modified to suit different settings or preferences throughout the year