An F1 Steering Wheel Explained | #drivedigitalsuccess #4

Show notes

While maneuvering the car is still the primary function of an F1 steering wheel, it is far more than that. Rather, the steering wheel houses a variety of functions – making it the control centre of the car. Throughout a race, the driver and race engineer work closely to ensure optimal car settings are deployed at any given time. In this podast, Gary Cannon - Mick Schumacher’s race engineer - explains the frequency, rationale and complexity of setting changes.


  1. The primary functions of an F1 steering wheel

  2. The interaction between driver and race engineer

  3. The steering wheel as the main hub

  4. The cost of a steering wheel

🏎️ #drivedigitalsuccess Take a technical glimpse behind the scenes of modern F1 racing to understand how technology is accelerating motorsport! How is racing connected to Cloud? What technology drives a modern race car? How can sustainability and racing go together? We talk with experts from the Haas F1 team as well as industry experts to answer questions you don’t even know you have yet.


🎙️Guest: Gary Gannon – Race Engineer Haas F1 Team

🎙️Host: Chris Medland — Formula 1 Expert and Presenter

🎙️Host: Mandy Carter — Cloud Expert & Head of Marketing, Ionos UK


00:00 | Intro

02:56 | All functions of a steering wheel explained

04:31 | Primary functions and data handling

08:46 | Troubleshooting: urgent setting changes

12:11 | Personal settings for the driver

13:36 | Cost of a steering wheel


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🎧 Produced by digital kompakt – Your expert in first class podcasts:

Show transcript

00:00:00: Welcome to drive digital 6s

00:00:08: you're behind the scenes podcast about Formula 1 and the technology driving is presented by Chris medland and Mandy Carter Howard bionis.

00:00:18: First class.

00:00:19: Music.

00:00:26: Gary Gannon and the race engineer for Mick Schumacher for Haas F1 team will be explaining an F1 steering.

00:00:33: Steering wheel in their Road car is something that just turned the wheels but I guess the Formula One car still a bit more

00:00:39: is more than for steering the car the main functions there is power steering then of course we have a shifting upshift and downshift paddles we have the clutch pedal which is important for getting the car out of the garage and also for starting the car at the race at the race start

00:00:53: the piano we have a variety of switches which allow us to manage the balance of the car and look after the reliability of the car and we have a Corsa big dash display which gives the driver lots and lots of information

00:01:03: and allows him to understand that how is using the car and what kind of issues were having with the car because it's warnings in alarms on this dash display yeah what sort of stuff

00:01:12: totem then first on the dash display what sort of thing would they be maybe Reading or seeing the inputs that are important to him I like I what mode he is in easy mode which is for doing running laps are doing back off so like a race start mode so it's important for them to see what movies

00:01:27: also which special switches has on or off is that a lot of lights for.

00:01:31: Lots of flights that indicates to him when you should be upsetting and the other has a tone in his ears to help him understand when the upshift because years is an underutilized resource so sometimes they don't follow the strip lights with a shift on the town.

00:01:45: He has obviously things like Gear car speed etc but those are less important to them because it's all very fluid so it doesn't need to know that information is clear.

00:01:53: And then any alarms that we have like the oil is hot there some other information that would require him to take action but generally like when they get an alarm on the dash they come on straight to us and ask us if we have to do anything about

00:02:05: there are some alarms that come up and say

00:02:07: stop the car now because we need to protect the Apu but otherwise most the alarms come up and then he asked us if it's ok and we say yeah carry on and now we need to slow and comb box.

00:02:18: That's the kind information is getting from the display on the dash and you say will come onto you guys so I'm assuming the radio

00:02:25: that's one of the yes yeah that's right yeah there's a radio button which has a light in it to the driver and knows when it's last because he just put it once and talks to us and push it again

00:02:35: sometimes drivers forget and leave the radio button on your whole app and you hear all the different noises they make they didn't really want you to

00:02:41: what's the radio button on talks to us and then switches off and I can talk to him anytime generally try and talk to them on the streets and it's like an urgent message and I will talk to them anytime but it can be really disruptive so it

00:02:52: back and forth about what's going on with the car and what we need to do if we get into too much detail about each individual switch and function do you know how many switches and functions there on Steam

00:03:02: we have like 6 thumbwheel notaries and then 6 rotor is on the face of it

00:03:08: these two toggle switches and there's another there's like a 12 buttons

00:03:12: roughly on the wheel is a lot of stuff for you to land for the driving yes yeah and driver doesn't have to know it all the basic ones are obvious to them like things like neutral or the pit lane speed limit area the radio that shift obviously is a lot of other switches that

00:03:26: at the beginning they don't know at all

00:03:28: they don't need to know they just need to know roughly where they are and we give them clue Direction about how to manage them and there's some that they'll never understand because they just don't need to and it's not part of their normal operation they just need to know how to.

00:03:41: Follow my command to achieve whatever switch change we

00:03:44: bit like the more and more they drive the car especially the young drivers some of these tools be coming to 11 so they become very opinionated about where we have the different switches and how they operate like we have the switches we won used for quick changes are on some wheels for the driver

00:03:59: quickly flick it with his son whilst his driving and between drivers they may want a different time we're going to different position because they think this is more important them or I can more easily reached

00:04:08: or this one I can't do when I'm doing the clutch pedal it's so there is some variability of how we use the different switches in WWI position them and it kind of depends on the drive

00:04:17: two drivers we have now we try and keep it very similar because it built for the new to the sport and we don't want to specialise too much because we just want them to learn and keep things consistent.

00:04:27: In the past we had different arrangements between them are two drivers so what are the main functions.

00:04:33: The driver using change during sessions and things are a bit is the big functions we already said the shift paddles in the clutch pedal to get out of the garage there's the Neutral button every time they come like a stop the car

00:04:45: is the pit lane speed limit with a turn-on to leave the garage in turn off venom on track the main tools that they use frequently are related to the balance in the braking systems so in a short run.

00:04:56: We might try and

00:04:57: perfectly optimised arrangement of balance and braking systems that we do corner by corner and we have Toggles on the top of the wheel that we can figure with exactly what we need for particular corners so for example and interlagos the right target for turned 67 to stabilize the car

00:05:12: I'm in the lift toggle for turn 8 9 10 to avoid front lock.

00:05:16: So we had different combinations of mapping system settings on those Toggles for a very quick change to the driver can be exactly optimised one quality where is in the race.

00:05:25: Balance requirements change through the entire stint as the tyre in and evolves in the temperatures changing everything so in a race

00:05:33: the requirement is very different and that the driver might be using a dip switch and adjusting at 3 or 4 times in a Stentor the EB engine braking switch could be adjusted multiple times on top of that he may still be the Toggles which are designed for certain corners to a managed The Palace

00:05:48: but through a stent where were using this dumb wheels and going back and forth at the minute within the same since we may have to move the balance rear word and bring it back forward again as the tire of.

00:05:57: And is that something that you would discuss with the drivers that sent to do it's a bit of both.

00:06:02: Madeira things that we can see in data that the driver can't really feel for example we can see rear locking which really just means a little bit re-run the rotation

00:06:10: it means the brake balances to reread and kind of harming the rear tyres on every break event the driver can't necessarily feel it but we can see it happening and data so in.

00:06:20: Situation we would encourage the driver to move the brake balance forward which he does with the button clicks so they were doing more breaking on the front axles in the rear axle or we might play with the what we call the brake shape which is how the brake balance with brake pressure as you go through a breaking

00:06:34: wear it like a driver can tell if he has front like in usually because you can see this mean of smoke coming off via inside front but the rear locking is something that we have to help him.

00:06:42: The other tools though as the driver's become more experienced they start taking over how they managed to do.

00:06:48: Sometimes they will do something that is good for the balance in the short-term but we know it might harm the tyres so we said no we can't do that please come back on that engine braking changing mate and do you see it like a specific place or just in general data that

00:07:01: find out when the driver makes a change a separate program I guess that shows you what the steering wheels doing we can see all the inputs from the steering wheel live but actually we can also see his dash display and serve effectively say virtual as he's running I know immediately that he's chain

00:07:16: balances change engine brake.

00:07:18: And then I'm not always watching it completely because I'm watching the race you but the controls engineer Mike is on top of it and he'll tell me it just went to gu32.

00:07:27: And then we know ok because it's closed up the dirty must be going towards oversteer and so now I was looking some other parameters and see if anything else that helps us indicate Direction the balances go.

00:07:36: And if you made the right change if we should suggest a different change to him do you quite often respond then to what you see the driver has done it may be on the radio or something yes

00:07:46: yes so like I would say if we saw the balance are we going at Direction and makes making the right changes I would say like I see the balance changes you made that's the right direction or we might suggest an even further step because they think the driver isn't always true about his how much can I adjust this affords too much and going to cause some other problem so we might encourage him to take another

00:08:06: brake balance forward or closing up the death for let's break shape things like that or we might say no that's the wrong change for your problem because we saw a gust of wind.

00:08:15: Internet so it's actually win because the problem and if you know close up this thing then because other trouble so it is a back-and-forth but if the other times it's like we see the balance the King and the drive.

00:08:27: Sometimes they have bandwidth to think about how they could evolve the Bowers and other times they don't because they're busy with other car things

00:08:34: so then we have to encourage him to make a change and certainly the beginning of the year we were directing all the changes now at this point in the.

00:08:41: Most drivers are making changes on their own in the correct Direction using the correct tools for the most part and you mention it there's some stuff in the jobs that don't need to know that you use.

00:08:50: Are you needing to have a function to yes what you do what sort of big part of that is we have will be called driver default which is like primarily failing sensors off is an engine sensor which is intermittently.

00:09:03: And this is causing a control system to behave intermittently we may want to fail that sensor and turned off so we have away for the driver to turn a rotary to a drive with default section and then we might say

00:09:13: drive your default L32 ok so he would turn the road Sarita DDA and then he.

00:09:20: Use the number buttons that we have he would press the 10 button three times 123 to get a 30 and then you press the one button 2 times to get to and then you would press OK and that would turn off

00:09:31: number 32 which might be this failing sensor we had to do one of these on.

00:09:35: The first lap in interlagos which was really that sort of a mental challenge for driving because he's a racing everyone but like when we say

00:09:43: urgent yes to do it now because you like the pee use them health is at risk so Nick did it out and was good that you got it done and you can sometimes

00:09:52: Khaled out they make a mistake and you have to crack it three or 4 times and takes 3 laps to get the full text you got it done but it's always a little do some cost it out because

00:10:01: using somebody's mental Capacity to adjust the switches what he's up to racing people on the first type of the race so too pretty wild it makes it sound as well like a bit of life support machine that in terms of this is where you can talk so much

00:10:13: what car does important is it to a drive.

00:10:16: To be able to get the car they doing what they want but they like to keep it running for the most part modern Formula 1 cars are very reliable.

00:10:24: Other pu manufacturers have come up very very long way in the evolving everything to be very robust but this is like the final layer of defences for electrical problems is this ability to fail sense the car

00:10:37: or you can Miner pu tuning based on the ambient conditions because

00:10:41: the air is hotter than they planned so we have to adjust things but it's I would say that with the buttons on the wheel are 75% used for the performance and balance of the car and 25% is managing to health in a normal race we would have

00:10:55: between zero and one of these kind of requests to fix something but if we have like a chasing a loom which is causing some kind of short we may have to fail loads and loads of sensors I can happen to us in Monaco we had a lot of use.

00:11:08: And we spent a lot of time minilab some turning things on and off and trying to solve a problem while still racing.

00:11:15: Yes sounds like a huge test for driver to be able to

00:11:18: do you have specific days and that you'd still train with them to get speed do you send them home with the steering wheel and say not really I mean in the past when we had some simulator resource that was a good time to do

00:11:29: that really like with Mick we spent lots of time in January and February going through.

00:11:34: I mean everything about the car in the operation of the weekend but up to the steering wheel in particular

00:11:39: we tried a very clearly defined the language of how we interact with all these switches so that I'm always asking for the same thing in the same way if I say I drive a default Alpha.

00:11:50: He knows that's talking about defaults as if I say multifunction a instead of Alpha then that's a cleared him it's just left her rotary to deal with so I've been very strict with the language and very clear the communication

00:12:02: and then once they get some experience with it becomes a lot easier for them but certainly at the beginning it's daunting how many.

00:12:08: Things we can play with and fixing a just for the driver's you mentioned her drivers sometimes want things moved

00:12:14: the positions of different positions for them so it is a part that is developed by the team

00:12:19: and put together by the team was it kind of adapted off-the-shelf type thing that has doing will become this complicated the steering wheel dash display comes from McLaren and that's pretty standard for everyone

00:12:29: and and

00:12:30: underline software and how we deal with all the systems of the car like the different stuff there's also standardized so the number of things that we can actually adjust is very common across teams

00:12:41: the name for this particular switch may be slightly different but all teams have sorted the same inputs as some

00:12:47: variation and how you deal with it whether it's like a thumb wheel or a toggle or a switch.

00:12:53: To get between the different time modes so that's evolved a bit are we will serve our customers during we'll so it's a little bit standardise but again we have all the same adjustability is any other tea

00:13:03: and then within the parts that we have we can make small adjustments in which driver has the thumbwheel where he has it based on his preference is there anything strange on there that you always point out to someone that you like so whether driver can do this or do that from the store

00:13:18: I mean they can have a drink you just run the Lidl electric pump which usually very hot I'm appealing drinking to his mouth and the race so we have till I can go to the drivers actually use

00:13:30: because it's better for them for the caravan durrants to have the fluid that they don't want it so have to like a problem to drink it

00:13:37: just fun if you're allowed to say it might need to be ballpark but how much is a sumo cost because it's also complex I mean I think they're on the order of like £50,000 or $80,000

00:13:46: so the display itself has a kiddo computer in it which has its own sort of code to be able to make of these dash display but the main thing you're paying for is the robustness of it because it's a very heavily tested

00:13:58: and you know we can

00:14:00: for any lack of reliability in any of these buttons or anything so the components are very high quality and tested to a very high standard and that's the cost

00:14:09: and you know it's vibration tolerance and everything is very very high so that's why they're so expensive.

00:14:15: And that's why it's not good when we see them get the toaster mishandled yeah how are you when you see a driving a car and threw it on the floor yeah it doesn't happen very often but it's definitely upsetting everyone

00:14:26: awesome thank you very much cool thanks a lot.

00:14:29: Thanks for listening see you on next pitstop in 2-weeks drive to still see.

00:14:38: What do you buy iron of first-class cloud in it infrastructure production.

00:14:46: Presenters on Mandy Carter and Chris medland Music and Sound design by

00:14:56: Music.

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