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How Much Does An F1 Steering Wheel Cost?

Formula 1 cars are state of the art machines capable of lapping a racetrack faster than any other car in the world. These cars have all been equipped with the latest and greatest technology. One of the most impressive parts of an F1 car is the steering wheel, which comes with a hefty cost.

F1 steering wheels cost around $50,000 to $100,000. Made largely of carbon fiber, it contains things like a digital dashboard for driver information alongside about 25 buttons and switches to control specific settings that the driver may need to adjust during a race.

The steering wheel is the driver’s most important tool. Aside from directing the car, they can also receive important details about the state of their car and the session they are taking part in. Below, we cover how much F1 steering wheels cost in more detail and why they’re so expensive.

How Much Do Formula 1 Steering Wheels Cost?

A Formula 1 steering wheel costs between $50,000 and $100,000. This price point is due to the technology that goes into the steering wheel and it being made of carbon fiber. It functions as a digital dashboard for the driver and also controls the clutch and the gearbox of the car. 

Formula 1 steering wheels are extremely expensive. They’re used for much more than just directing the front wheels and pointing the car in different directions. There are various important elements of the car that can be found on the steering wheel, and it’s important for the driver to understand everything there is to know about this crucial control system.

An Expensive Piece Of Kit

The average cost of a Formula 1 steering wheel is between $50,000 and $100,000. This might seem a bit excessive for something that is used to get the car around corners and point it in different directions, but the steering wheel’s functions extend well beyond that. Much like the steering wheels in luxury road cars, the buttons of the steering wheel of an F1 car have many important functions.

The steering wheels of Formula 1 cars are also used to control the gearbox and the clutch of the cars. The clutch and the gear shifts are controlled with paddles on the back of the steering wheel. When the driver pulls a gear change paddle, the car will shift gear faster than the blink of an eye.

The driver needs to carefully balance their clutch paddle at the start of the race so as to not stall their car on the grid. The clutch paddle is incredibly sensitive, and each steering wheel will have two clutch paddles, which gives the driver more control over how they pull away from the starting grid. 

The Costs Involved In Developing F1 Steering Wheels 

The steering wheels used in Formula 1 cars look incredibly unique, far different from what you would see in your average road car. With several buttons and a big screen filled with critical information about the car and the session the driver is participating in, these steering wheels can become incredibly expensive.

That’s because of the costs involved in building these pieces of equipment. Expensive carbon fiber material is used to build these steering wheels, and there are some complex steps that need to be taken in order to build them. 

FUN FACT: The complexity required in building F1 steering wheels means that it can take a total of 80 hours to build them. 

The steering wheel of a Formula 1 car is essentially the brain of the car, allowing the drivers to control different parts of their cars using their steering wheels. This can include elements such as the brake balance, engine settings, tire settings, and much, much more. All of these things rely on complex and expensive electronics inside the wheels.

Why Are F1 Steering Wheels So Expensive?

F1 steering wheels are so expensive because they allow the driver to control many different elements on the car at any given time. They have many different buttons, each controlling a different aspect of the car. The material also factors into the price, being made of carbon fiber.

At between $50,000 and $100,000 each, Formula 1 steering wheels are incredibly expensive. But they’re pricey for good reason. The steering wheel of an F1 car is like a control center that can control hundreds of different elements on the cars, and this requires a serious amount of computing power.

Highly Functional

The steering wheel has several buttons for basic controls, such as the drinks bottle, team radio, and putting the car into reverse. However, there are also much more complex interactions that can take place, such as the brake bias, different engine settings, differentials, clutch bite points, and so much more. These elements are all important to the performance of the car.

The digital dashboard also connects to several different sensors on the car and around the circuit to give the driver a live feed of information at all times. This system is extremely expensive to develop and implement, which adds even further costs to the overall price of the steering wheel. Engineers and mechanics that work on it also need to be paid, further adding to the costs of building it.

Finally, Formula 1 steering wheels need to be incredibly light. Any extra weight added to the car would make it slower, and a heavy steering wheel would also cause trouble for the driver when it comes to turning the steering wheel with ease. As such, expensive carbon fiber is used to build the body of the steering wheel, which makes it as lightweight as possible.

Personalization Of Steering Wheels

The drivers are fully involved in the building and design of the steering wheel right from day one. Drivers also have input into the steering wheel design. Everything from the button layouts to the shape of the steering wheel and even the size of the screen is taken into consideration by the team based on the driver’s feedback.

That’s simply because the drivers are the ones who will be using the steering wheels every time they get into the car. Even the clutch paddles at the back of the steering wheel are molded into the shape and size of their fingers, which gives them a comfortable grip on the clutch paddle when they need to pull away from the line at the grid.

Every steering wheel is unique because of the drivers’ personal preferences and inputs during the initial design and building phase of the season. The switch on the steering wheel needs to be incredibly strong to survive the intense vibrations inside the car, so these are the same switches that are often used in aircraft as well.

Drivers can often decide to use different buttons or switches based on their own needs. Sometimes drivers feel more comfortable with different buttons and switches compared to other drivers, and at the end of the day, the drivers need to feel comfortable adjusting settings on their steering wheels at speeds in excess of 200 mph.

KEY POINTS

• F1 steering wheels can cost around $50,000 to $100,000 but it varies by team

• Drivers can control many different aspects of the car via their steering wheels

• This requires complex electronics which, along with a lot of carbon fiber, drive the price up

How Many Steering Wheels Do F1 Drivers Use Per Season?

F1 drivers will typically go through 3 or 4 steering wheels per season, but some may use the same steering wheel throughout the entire season. These steering wheels are customized to the preference of the driver, with drivers being involved in the process from the start.

The steering wheel of a Formula 1 car doesn’t go through a lot of wear and tear. Even in the event of a crash, the steering wheel is relatively protected from the chaos outside of the survival cell, just like the driver. Drivers will usually go through between three and four steering wheels during a season, with some using the same steering wheel for the entire season.

Technical Issues

However, teams will use backup steering wheels when needed. Because of the complex computer systems connected to the steering wheel, technical gremlins can cause some trouble in the car. For example, we even saw Lewis Hamilton change his steering wheel mid-race with McLaren during the 2012 Indian Grand Prix.

Changing steering wheels can fix some technical gremlins mid-race. But oftentimes these issues can be solved in between sessions or even in the middle of a session if they occur on Friday or Saturday, so having a backup steering wheel available is not necessarily essential.

Highly Customizable

Formula 1 drivers customize their steering wheels to their own liking. Drivers get to decide their steering wheel’s layout based on their personal preferences, which is why two steering wheels may not look the same even if they’re both from the same team. Some drivers might prefer to change some settings around over time for comfort and practicality reasons.

Can You Buy An F1 Steering Wheel?

You can buy an F1 steering wheel, but you’ll most likely be looking at a replica steering wheel. These replica steering wheels can go for anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000 or more. F1 steering wheels are usually kept fairly secret, and so you’re unlikely to ever see a real one on the market.

You can buy your very own Formula 1 steering wheel if you’re looking for a great collectible item. There are many different stores around the internet that sell Formula 1 steering wheels. For the most part, though, you’ll be looking at replica steering wheels that are scaled to a real Formula 1 steering wheel.

Replica steering wheels are much more affordable than the real thing because the complex computer systems that are attached to the real steering wheel are not used in the replica. There’s a wide price range for replica steering wheels, but you can expect to find them for anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000.

If you’re looking for a more functional steering wheel, there are lots of companies that sell replica Formula 1 steering wheels that fit onto your sim racing rig. Some of these are generic replicas that simply use the shape and the button layout of Formula 1 steering wheels, whereas others replicate the team’s actual steering wheels.

These steering wheels allow you to feel like a Formula 1 driver in your very own home. Replica steering wheels are great for display purposes or if you’re interested in getting to know all the different settings and buttons on the steering wheel.

Why Do F1 Steering Wheels Have So Many Buttons?

F1 steering wheels have so many buttons because they allow drivers the ability to change the settings of the car quickly when they’re in the middle of a race. This list of settings grew exponentially over time, allowing drivers more control over their vehicles with up to 25 buttons and switches.

Not so long ago, Formula 1 steering wheels were relatively simplistic. With a couple of basic buttons for the pit radio and a reverse gear, these steering wheels looked much like the ones we used to have in our own road cars. However, they quickly became much more complex and intricate than you could ever imagine.

FUN FACT: Formula 1 cars have a total of up to 25 buttons and switches on them, all of which control various aspects of how the car behaves. 

But the steering wheels of Formula 1 cars need to have a lot of buttons and switches. They were initially built onto the steering wheels to allow the driver to change the settings and preferences on their car on the fly, for example, their brake bias settings. This allows F1 drivers to change the way their car behaves in the corners.

More And More Buttons

Over the years, the list of settings and preferences simply grew. With the addition of ERS and DRS, steering wheels became even more cluttered. This, along with the fact that drivers need to change different engine modes and settings on their steering wheels at different times, means that Formula 1 steering wheels have now become incredibly complex.

It’s important to keep in mind that every team designs and builds their own steering wheels. As such, some teams might have different settings on their cars, and they might look entirely different to another team. Some teams might have the same settings but have labeled it as something different.

Final Thoughts

F1 steering wheels cost between $50,000 and $100,000. The driver uses the steering wheel not just to turn the car, but also to control how the car behaves and reacts to inputs while it’s on track. The steering wheel is also a digital dashboard, giving the driver critical information about their car.