A Brief History Of How Formula 1 Steering Wheels Evolved Through The Years

Formula 1 has always been the most advanced form of motorsport, with engineers applying some very sophisticated solutions over the years. Yet no one really bothered with reinventing the wheel, the steering wheel that is, for a very long time.

Even though the rest of the cars went through remarkable transformations, for nearly four decades the wheel was just a round thing with three aluminum spokes and the rim covered originally in wood and then in leather.

Only at the late 1980’s, when the semi-automatic gearboxes appeared, did things start to change a little, but it would take almost another decade and the arrival of advanced electronics for the engine and the suspension for it to start changing radically.

Today, it’s hardly a wheel at all, and it’s loaded with all kinds of buttons and knobs that control various systems. Just imagine trying to change those settings while racing wheel-to-wheel with another car at, say, 200 km/h, in torrential rain and with the next corner approaching fast…