Current Thinking

Design Matters – F1 steering wheels


Being a huge Formula 1 fan, I can’t help but notice the unbelievably expensive high technology used in modern racing cars. Every piece of the car has been specially designed and hand crafted to be used at the absolute limit of performance during a grand prix.

Even one of the oldest and most basic components found in any motorcar has been completely redesigned into a marvel of modern engineering. The steering wheel on a modern F1 car is study in hi tech complexity despite being the primary means of communicating with a car going over 200 MPH. Have to wonder what those engineers were thinking.

I won’t bore you with the details of all the functions, but it’s easy to see from these images that a distinct cultural difference exists in a very obvious way for the factory teams that design and build F1 cars.


BMW ( German ) = function over form




Ferrari ( Italian ) = style + form + function


The Ferrari wheel appears to utilize color and shape to add real value to the functional elements of the wheel itself, where the BMW wheel appears to be built for ultimate customization, perhaps at the expense of usability.

I’m not an F1 driver, so I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing the Ferrari drivers got the hang of their wheels quicker and has more confidence adjusting settings while screaming down the backstraight.

What do you think?