What Are The Controls In A Formula 1 Car?

What Are The Controls In A Formula 1 Car

Formula 1 cars have a unique set of controls. The controls Formula 1 cars have today are drastically different from the controls used back then. During the 1950s, Formula 1 cars didn’t even have controls but instead a typical steering wheel. The times have changed, and so have the cars. With a total of 25 buttons and switches to pair with the clutch and shift paddles, the Formula 1 steering wheel has revolutionized how competitive racing is viewed. Read more to learn about the functions of a Formula 1 car’s controls and their importance in an overall race.

F1 Steering Wheel Buttons

Today, the Formula 1 steering wheels used look technologically advanced and complex. Each button added to the steering wheel adds an additional function as a way of helping the driver. It wasn’t always like this because a traditional steering wheel was used in the earlier years of the sport. The buttons on the steering wheel of a Formula 1 car help the driver in controlling everything about the car, from the brakes to replenishing electrolytes in the driver's mouth.

Here are all of the buttons on the recent model of a F1 steering wheel:

  • Bi-directional acknowledge
  • Differential control
  • Engine
  • Engine stop
  • Fuel hatch
  • Multi-down
  • Multi-function button (x2)
  • Neutral
  • Radio
  • RPM lights
  • Screen scroll
  • Speed limit
  • Start
  • Start preparation (x2)

F1 Steering Wheel Components

Formula 1 Steering Wheel

Besides the many buttons, there are other components that make up the F1 steering wheel to maximize success for a driver to win. These parts on the steering wheel may not be talked about much, but they are crucial in determining a driver’s success on the track. Below is the terminology for the other parts that complete a typical Formula 1 steering wheel.


There are three sets of paddles, depending on the setup. The top paddles are there to give the driver easy access to certain settings such as engine setups, overtake mode, etc. The middle paddles are so the driver is able to shift across the eight different speed transmissions. The lower sets are for the clutch, which is mainly used at the start of a race or if a driver wins, for donuts.


Handles are what the driver grips onto and uses to turn. They are specifically molded to the driver’s hands.

Quick-Release Hub

A quick-release hub mechanism allows drivers easy access to and exit from the cockpit. This mechanism permits the steering wheel to be removed in a single motion.


The display is a mini screen that gives the driver information during a race, such as lap times, car performance, and current gear. Depending on the driver, it can be located directly on the wheel or the car’s dashboard.

RPM Indicator LEDS

LED lights give the driver a heads-up when it’s time to shift. The lights are often set up in different colors to indicate low and high RPMs and can be located at the top of the wheel or on the dash.

Yearly F1 Controls Changes

Designs and functions change from year to year, as Formula 1 is constantly modifying its steering wheels. This is because of different trends and rule changes every year. For example, in 2008, traction control was banned and then removed.