If you’ve been glued to a screen long enough during a Formula E race, then you’ve probably noticed the drivers push all kinds of buttons on their steering wheel from time to time. Only die-hard fans know what they’re actually doing. For the rest of you, it’s time to get a hold of the wheel:
2. Rotary dials are where all the strategy happens
1. The display tells you everything you gotta know
The wheel has two main displays for the driver to toggle between (see 1). The first tells you how the car is doing: its energy consumption, gearbox fluid pressure, powertrain temperature and other such indicators. The second display reveals how the driver is doing: his current lap time, best lap time and the difference between them.
Torque settings (see 3), regenerative braking settings (see 5) and energy management settings (see 6) are controlled on these dials. Engineers make the smallest strategy to set up these dials in way that could mean the difference between winning and losing. Woah! So these dials are what ‘dial up’ the action at an electrifying race like Formula E.
3. Pit lane limiter keeps you in check
For safety precautions, all pit lanes have a speed limit of 50kph. Before entering the lane, drivers push this button (see 7) to activate the limiter. With this on, they can’t go over 50 even if they were to slam on the accelerator by mistake. The switch is pressed again to deactivate just before exiting the lane and joining the circuit.
4. Shift lights tell you when to change gears
Formula E engines are not as loud as those of Formula 1. So it’s hard to figure out by sound alone exactly when to shift gear. That’s where these lights (see 8) help.
5. Gear paddles have four speeds
S2 cars had four gears (compared to five in S1). Fewer gears mean lesser energy lost as the gears change. Pull upshift paddle (see 9) to shift to a higher gear; downshift paddle (see 12) to go down a gear.
6. The FabBoost paddle
The most thrilling experience at Formula E that only a chosen few have! Three FanBoost winners get a five-second power surge of 100kW when this paddle is pulled (see 11). It thrusts them forward and pushes them ahead of the cars in front.
7. The Regen paddle
During a race, drivers recoup energy in the battery every time they brake (a technology in electric motors called ‘regenerative braking’). They can, however, power the battery even without braking by just pulling this paddle (see 10).
When you break it down further, there’s a lot more that makes this steering wheel an awesome piece of design and engineering. Like its carbon-fibre framework (see 2) – making it lighter and easier to handle at a pit stop. What’s more, the grips are alcantara (see 4) – a super-strong cover to give drivers cement-like hold especially when it rains. Fancy.
With these tidbits of dope on the steering wheel, you’re geared up to watch Formula E this season like a total boss. See you on the track, passioneers!