WATCH | How a Formula One steering wheel works

Aussie GP winner Valtteri Bottas explains the functions of his R870,000 piece of kit

25 March 2019 - 08:54 By Motoring Reporter
Drivers have to operate a dazzling array of switches apart from making around 50 gearshifts a lap.
Drivers have to operate a dazzling array of switches apart from making around 50 gearshifts a lap.
Image: Daimler

Have you ever wondered what all those buttons on a Formula One steering wheel do?

F1 champions Mercedes have posted a video where Valtteri Bottas, who won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix last weekend, explains the functions of this complicated piece of kit.

The steering wheel costs a whopping R870,000 (the same price as a Mercedes C220d Cabriolet), but it's no ordinary steering wheel. It's a very high-tech device that's custom-designed to exactly fit the driver's hands, with robust switches that are the same type as used in aircraft to prevent accidental actions under vibrations. 

Apart from having to make around fifty gearshifts per lap, drivers are kept very busy with a cornucopia of rotary switches and dials that control the differential, engine modes, and car-to-pit communication, to mention a few.

These include the 'Strat' knob which selects the various engine modes that the driver can use during a race. It can turn down the revs to conserve the engine, or briefly raise them for an overtaking move. Bottas says his favourite Strat setting, not surprisingly, is the 'full beans' mode, which extracts maximum power.

The PL button is the pit lane speed limiter, which is either set for 60km/h or 80km/h depending on the circuit, and automatically sets the car at the correct speed on pit entry, no matter how hard the driver is pressing the throttle.

Using rotary dials, the driver can adjust the diff for extra over- or understeer through corners. 

Check out the video here.

Valtteri Bottas won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Valtteri Bottas won the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Image: Reuters

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