Behold the R800 000 Steering Wheel | Inspire
Behold the R800 000 Steering Wheel
Good to Know
Good to Know

Behold the R800 000 Steering Wheel

From gut-crushing cornering speeds to lung-puncturing acceleration and braking, the modern F1 car is undoubtedly a thing of engineering wonder. And its steering wheel is by no means the least of its wizardry.

The F1 steering wheel has mutated massively over time – from the elegance of the 1950s wooden ones to the early 1990s square leather-clad "wheels" with shift paddles and buttons. Today, the Mercedes F1 W06 carbon fibre steering component boasts 12 buttons, six thumb wheels and three dials. And on the back? A pair of gear change paddles and hand clutches. 

All this technology means the following functions (among others) can all be adjusted or operated on the fly: the front/rear brake bias, the differential – to adjust corner entry and exit behaviour, fuel consumption, pit lane speed limiter, rev limit, numerous engine modes, the driver's drink, how much energy the hybrid system harvests or deploys, how aggressive the throttle pedal delivers power, and that endless source of amusement to TV-watching fans – the car-to-pit radio. 

There's also a configurable 4.3-inch data screen to relay key car information. And a rev clock? That's so '70s – nowadays it's a row of multi-coloured lights. And of course each driver has personal preferences, which means a bespoke piece of kit.

One steering wheel costs R800 000 and takes about six weeks to manufacture – and each Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS driver has three at his disposal per race weekend. With such big stakes, never before has the most basic of driving lessons – keeping both hands on the wheel – been such advice.  

By Braam Peens



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