Advanced Auto Mechanic Training: Anatomy of a Mercedes F1 Steering Wheel

F1 Steering Wheel

There is nothing quite like it; the feeling of shifting onto the highway as you grip the wheel and open up the throttle. The breeze of 40 km/h becomes increasingly violent as the speedometer climbs to 100 km/h and the steering wheel wrestles to put up a fight as it begins to tingle beneath your fingers. If you can feel some vibrations in your steering wheel when you surpass 100 km/h, imagine how serious the shaking would become at triple that speed, driving at three-hundred kilometers per hour. This is a feeling only a few get to experience—Formula One (F1) racers—and a job for only the most advanced steering wheels, like those build by famed German automotive company Mercedes-Benz.
Being a mechanic that works with F1 instruments requires extensive training and know-how. Read on to discover how the Mercedes F1 steering wheel is engineered and how it operates.

Much More Than Steering: The F1 Steering Wheel is a Control Centre

Between the pit crew, the driver behind the wheel, and the workings of the actual F1 car, the complexity of racing in the F1 circuit is enough to make your brain spin. All the communication between these three parties—auto mechanics, drivers, and the car itself—comes together in the driver’s steering wheel.

The pit crew have extensive auto mechanic training to make sure cars stay on the track
The pit crew have extensive auto mechanic training to make sure cars stay on the track

Students in auto mechanic training might be surprised to know that the Mercedes F1 steering wheel resembles a complex video game controller more than a typical steering wheel. It also acts as the technological nerve centre of an F1 racing team. Through 20 buttons and rotaries, over 40 functions are controlled by a Mercedes F1 steering wheel and are all available at the driver’s fingertips—including the gear shifting, the communication with the pit crew, and a multitude of other controls. Mercedes F1 steering wheels also provide drivers with a steady stream of information through the built-in 4.3” LCD screen. No wonder an F1 steering wheels cost upwards of $50,000!

What Mechanics that Work with F1 Steering Wheels Know: Every Driver is Different

While in mechanic school you may learn an interesting fact: every single F1 driver has his or her own particular steering wheel design and layout based on the driver’s preferences and performance requirements. For example, the two Mercedes-Benz F1 drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, have their steering wheels configured in drastically different ways. Both drivers have different button layouts on their wheel, and Rosberg has smaller ‘shifting paddles’ than Hamilton. Rather than a regular ‘stick-shift’ gearbox, Mercedes F1 ‘shifting paddles’ are attached to the steering wheel so drivers don’t need to take their hands off the wheel while shifting—helping them stay focused on the road. Shifting from one gear to the next in a Mercedes F1 race-car takes only 30-50 milliseconds, allowing drivers to go from zero to one-hundred kilometers per hour in about 2 seconds.

Mercedes Re-Invented the Wheel in 2014: What Mechanic School Students Need to Know

The year that Mercedes-Benz dominated the F1 circuit—2014—is the same year that the company reconfigured its steering wheel. Coincidence? Definitely not. The new Mercedes F1 steering wheel is a leap in automotive engineering. In the new 2014 Mercedes F1 steering wheel there is a new LCD display, called the PCU-8D, which due to a recent F1 ban on radio communication between the pit crew and the driver, was integral to the success of Mercedes F1 racing team in 2014. Without radio communication from the pit crew, the driver needed to receive information another way. This was done through the installation of the new Mercedes-Benz PCU-8D, telling the driver his or her speed, the charge of the car’s battery, and much more.
The new Mercedes F1 steering wheel’s PCU-8D proves that it’s easier to steer when you have more knowledge.
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