Anyone taking a passing glance at at TV screen when Formula One is playing will be aware that F1 car steering wheel bear little resemblance to road car wheels. In the tight confines of an F1 car cockpit, the best place to present the driver with information is on the steering wheel itself. If you’ve millions to spend each year, it’s a useful item.
For our car’s intended use, some of the design aspects of this have been carried over as we could see significant uses in this ethos. John Hansell explains, “One of the reasons is that the decision was made quite early in the design to rationalise the electrical system, and eliminate as many potential weak links as possible, whilst at the same time making full use of the systems available to us and streamlining the controls for Simon.”
“It’s an important area to get right as it’s the first point of contact that the driver has with the car. I felt the only way to do this was to put what i call the ‘pre-flight checks’ all on the steering wheel, where everything can be checked and actioned in a logical sequence. That was when i decided that the only way to put it all (dash display, paddle shift, quick release and switches) into a nice neat package, was to do it myself.”
“So after a trip to the Autosport Show where Simon chose the size and style of wheel that felt comfortable, I began designing the wheel, the result of which is now finished. It consists of a one-off molded carbon-fibre ”chassis” with suede trimming, fully integrated paddle shift system, a very highly speced Race Technology dash panel with lots of really useful features which i’m sure we’ll touch on in future, a totally brilliant Works Bell quick release, and a few buttons which control data logging, traction control and launch control settings. The main switch panels contain nothing more than the turbo boost controller, wiper switch, map 1/2 switch a few status lights and the main battery kill system.”
The final unit manufactured by John means that the team can capitalise on the simplified electrical system and maintain the weight saving measures. The gearshift paddles will retain much of the original mechanism, enabling the team to quickly revert back to a pull manual system should a failure of the new system occur.