As we stand a few days prior to the opening round of the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion in the streets of Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia, we'd like to share with you a piece of high technology used in F1 - the steering wheel.
Each hand-made steering wheel cost approximately 40,000$ to fabricate, using carbon fibre, miniature electronic components, bi-directional data transmission equipment and military connectors. It weighs only 1300 grams.
These pieces of art are used not only to steer the front wheels of the car, but also to adjust dozens of parameters of the car, front flaps, KERS, engine, differential and gearbox while the car is circulating on the race track at more 300 km/h.
Although teams use buttons for certain very specific functions, most buttons are common to all teams.
What are the buttons for?
1 Information from the FIA and the marshals (such as a yellow flag)
2 N = Neutral
3 D = Drink button
4 Pr = Problem (leaves a cookie on the data acquisition system)
5 Diag X = Deactivate sensor
6 BB = Brake balance
7 Ack = Acknowledge
8 Box = Pit stop
9 BP = Bite point of the clutch
10 Diag Y = Deactivate sensor
11 R = Radio button
12 BO = Boost (extra revs to overtake)
13 PL = Pit lane speed limiter
14 Preload = Basic differential setting
15 Setting of the differential at the entry of a corner
16 Setting of the differential at the exit of a corner
17 Cruise = Cruise control when running behind the Safety Car
18 RPM = Max revs of the engine
19 Tyres = To confirm tyre choice for next pit stop
21 Fuel = To adjust fuel mixture
22 Pedal = To adjust the sensitivity of the throttle
23 Left paddle, to change one gear down
24 Right paddle, to change one gear up
25 Two hand controlled clutch paddles
Steering wheels of other Formula 1 teams