Formula 1 is an exceptionally competitive sport, operation on razor-thin margins, through no stone left unturned in the pursuit of speed. Teams are competing for literal millisecond advantages, cut milligrams and also perfecting every surface ar of the car down come the millimeter.

The team, the driver, and also the car must it is in in perfect harmony because that 72 hours, or an important positions are shed by the time the checkered flag drops at the finish of the weekend. With those positions lost comes money lost.

Teams can lose both sponsors and also prize money over a gyeongju result. Just such a thing happened to Haas Formula 1 Team in 2019. Haas was, at the time, funded by rich Energy, an energy drink firm based in England. Negative performance by the team, and the dubious financial circumstances of your sponsor, led to the two organizations calling that quits. End the years, the sport has actually become much more and more monetized v both sponsorships prefer the one had at Haas 2 years ago, as well as TV viewership.

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Every inch of a car can be impacted by this influx of money and bleeding-edge tech, and also the steering wheel is arguably impacted the most.

If it Ain"t around The Money

via Motorsport technology
in ~ the end of the 2020 Formula 1 season, Ferrari gathered a hefty $205 million in prize money and also "other bonuses". Often that prize money is circulated right ago into the breakthrough costs the the following year"s car, i beg your pardon frankly, Ferrari could use a little help with after your disappointing 2020 season.

No other component of the vehicle receives as much driver input together the steering wheel, both throughout the race and throughout the wheel"s development. Driver"s wheels space often emerged to their specific preferences, with every little thing from switch layouts to the product on the grips being taken right into account.

as soon as individual cars can cost tens that millions, the steering wheel can comprise a far-reaching portion that the cost. In enhancement to this, chauffeurs will frequently go v multiple wheels every season due to developmental alters made transparent the season and accidents.

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because that example, if a brand-new in-car mechanism is developed, such together Mercedes" DAS system, brand-new wheels must likewise be developed for both chauffeurs to take advantage of the new tech. The course, the readjust does not constantly need to it is in so massive, as materials can be readjusted to reflect input provided by motorists over the food of the season. These components can regularly be exorbitantly expensive, together the wheels space made native the lightest, strongest materials available, such together carbon fiber and even gold.

The cost is an ext than financial, together each wheel take away easily much more than 50 man-hours to make. It is daunting to placed a hard number top top the price of each wheel, indigenous CAD paper to race track, together each team renders their own wheels for each driver. Some approximates place the expense of a single wheel everywhere from $80,000 come $100,000 USD. Then, taking into account the average 3 to 5 wheels every season, the steering wheel that a Formula 1 car can price an mean of $240,000 come $500,000 every year.

via Formula 1
The evolution of the steering wheel in Formula 1 is one analogy for the breakthrough of the sports as a whole. As cars advanced from thin-tired sub 200 horsepower fatality machines to thousands horsepower monsters, for this reason too have the devices used to manage them.

Wheels have actually gone from a simple wooden one bolted come the steering rack to having actually upwards of twenty-five buttons, dials, and also switches, each with a distinctive function. Modern-day wheels allow drivers to change the setup the the auto on the fly, from exactly how much braking press is applied at the front and rear that the vehicle to dispensing water come the driver to an altering the angle at which the wheels call the pavement. Much of Formula 1 an innovation eventually functions its method down into day-to-day road cars, and steering wheels space no exception.

practically every function found on a steering wheel in a auto can be traced back to Formula 1 or other motorsports.

via Formula 1
This has the steering wheel-mounted paddles, which space so commonplace in contemporary cars. Paddles, once reserved for the most progressed of race and road cars, can now be uncovered on also the Toyota Camry.

It"s practically impossible to understate the impact steering wheels, and the tech they manage have had actually on motorsports. This begs the question, is the extreme cost even precious it?

It"s tough to make any type of argument in donate of together an over-developed item of hardware come those external the industry, used only for a couple of weekends a year prior to yet an additional over-developed piece of hardware is thrown in the car. Yet to look in ~ it indigenous an insider"s perspective, armed with the expertise that the an innovation used this season may just end up in your Toyota one day, it definitely seems worth the money.


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Chase Bierenkoven is a gearhead and also writer based in Denver, Colorado. He"s rolling burritos, ceded pizzas, and even done a little bit of gyeongju on the side. Chase will certainly be graduating from city State university of Denver"s legit Studies regime in a couple of short months. Now, Chase functions as a writer for hot Cars.