Mission Report

Behind the Scenes: Control centre

The steering wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid – a multifunctional control centre

Steering Wheel Porsche 919 Hybrid

Setting the direction is the most trivial task of the steering wheel in the Porsche 919 Hybrid. The drivers of the Class 1 Le Mans prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship have a computer in their hands. They operate 24 buttons and switches on the front as well as six paddles on the reverse side to control the most complex racing car built by Porsche to date.

Although it is called a steering wheel, it is not round but a flat rectangle. The shape is due to the space required during driver changes. Tall drivers such as Mark Webber or Brendon Hartley, in particular, would otherwise have difficulties in accommodating their long legs quickly. There is a large display in the centre, which displays a multitude of information to the driver.

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Mark Webber at the steering wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid.

The steering wheel is made of carbon, the grip handles are covered in slip-resistant rubber. To make the switches easier to recognise in the dark, their colours are fluorescent and respond to a black light lamp, which is situated above the driver's helmet. Thanks to the power steering system, drivers can steer the car without any difficulty, even with the relatively narrow grips. When reaching through the openings, their fingers touch six paddles on the reverse side of the steering wheel. The centre paddles are used for changing gears – pulling the right paddle is for upshifting, and pulling the left paddle is for downshifting. The lowermost paddles operate the clutch and their function is identical on either side. Depending on whether the driver just entered a right or left curve, he can decide which side is easier to operate. The paddle at the top left operates the boost; whether the drivers use this paddle or the button on the front is purely a matter of preference. The drivers use the paddle at the top right to initiate manual energy recuperation. This feels like a slightly engaged hand brake and supplies the battery reservoir with electric energy gained from kinetic energy.

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