HOW DOES AN F1 STEER­ING WHEEL WORK?

World of Knowledge (Australia) - - History -

It may look like a Plays­ta­tion con­troller on steroids, but this is F1 world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton’s steer­ing wheel. En­gi­neers work­ing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas team have laid out all of the im­por­tant steer­ing el­e­ments so the Bri­tish driver can reach them with his thumbs, with­out need­ing to take his hands off the cus­tom-made grips. That makes the wheel safer to use be­cause it means even the tight­est hair­pin bends don’t re­quire hand ac­ro­bat­ics. Chang­ing the steer­ing wheel only takes a few sec­onds when there’s a prob­lem – the set­tings are saved onto the car’s com­puter. Such a specialised bit of kit doesn’t come cheap, though. Each steer­ing wheel will set you back $73,000.

1 DIF­FER­EN­TIAL

This dial al­lows Hamil­ton to con­trol how much power is de­liv­ered to each of the wheels and, there­fore, the speed at which they spin when turn­ing a cor­ner. By chang­ing the set­ting, he can limit the amount of un­der­and over­steer. It also im­pacts fuel con­sump­tion and the wear and tear of the tyres.

2 DRS

The drag re­duc­tion sys­tem opens a wing flap at the back of the car, giv­ing a short speed boost of around 12km/h. How­ever, this tool is only per­mit­ted on cer­tain stretches, or “zones”, of track.

3 SKIP 1/10 PRE­SET

This but­ton al­lows Hamil­ton to ac­cess all the 100 con­trol sen­sors in his car. It can be used to turn off faulty sen­sors or activate other ones for tac­ti­cal rea­sons.

4 NEU­TRAL

Press this once and the gear­box switches to neu­tral. Press and hold for re­verse gear. The but­ton is lo­cated on the front of the steer­ing wheel and not on the back with the gear levers to en­sure that it’s not pressed by ac­ci­dent.

5 PIT-LANE SPEED LIM­ITER 6 PIT CON­FIRM

The Lim­iter re­stricts the car to 80km/h. Hamil­ton hits the Pit Con­firm but­ton to give the okay to a mes­sage from his crew.

7 BRAKE BAL­ANCE

These but­tons con­trol the del­i­cate bal­ance, or bias, be­tween the front and rear brakes. It’s cru­cial that Hamil­ton gets the bias spot on: too much rear brak­ing will make the car spin, while being heavy­handed with the front brakes will stop the car from turn­ing in.

8 AC­CEPT

Sim­i­lar to 6. An­other but­ton used to con­firm mes­sages or in­struc­tions from the team of en­gi­neers in the pits.

9 MARK

If Hamil­ton no­tices some­thing un­usual, such as a dodgysound­ing en­gine, he can mark the po­ten­tially dam­aged part or sys­tem er­ror for later anal­y­sis.

10 STRAT­EGY REG­U­LA­TOR

In­stead of hav­ing to scroll up and down through lots of dif­fer­ent op­tions, this but­ton means Hamil­ton can quickly switch be­tween pre­set modes such as a high-per­for­mance or en­ergy-sav­ing set­ting.

11 MULTI-FUNC­TION DIAL 12 HPP REG­U­LA­TOR

These two di­als reg­u­late set­tings such as brak­ing, cruise con­trol and torque, as well as managing the fuel mix­tures and ig­ni­tion tim­ings in the en­gines to suit dif­fer­ent weather con­di­tions.

13 RACE START

At the start of the race, the car has to reach its max­i­mum per­for­mance level within sec­onds. Pressed shortly be­fore the race be­gins, the Race Start but­ton gets Hamil­ton off the line as quickly as pos­si­ble.

14 RA­DIO

One of the most im­por­tant func­tions in the car: over the team ra­dio, Hamil­ton can com­mu­ni­cate with his team in the pits dur­ing the race and quickly let them know about any un­fold­ing prob­lems.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.