Intrigue surrounds extra paddle on Vettel's F1 steering wheel

Ferrari is at the centre of fresh Formula 1 technical intrigue with the appearance of a mystery new paddle on Sebastian Vettel's steering wheel

Intrigue surrounds extra paddle on Vettel's F1 steering wheel

The new element, which features only on the German's car and is not being used by Kimi Raikkonen, has fuelled speculation about what the team could be using the paddle for.

Ferrari tried to keep the presence of the paddle a secret, but it was spotted after Vettel's pole position lap at the Bahrain Grand Prix when he stopped on the grid for post-qualifying interviews.

Ferrari has been tight-lipped on what the paddle is for, but it has denied early rumours that it is being used to alter engine map settings to help keep its exhaust blowing in corners when off-throttle.

Such behaviour is unlikely, though, with the FIA having made clear pre-season that it would clamp down hard on teams that tried to change engine settings to produce off-throttle blowing.

The Ferrari paddle may however be linked to a setting that needs to be changed mid-corner - either on differential, engine mapping or energy control - because its positioning allows it to be used when the steering wheel is being turned.

The paddle has a rotary sensor, which means it is something that can be adjusted in incremental steps, rather than simply being an on-off switch.

Speaking on the latest episode of Motorsport Show, technical analyst Craig Scarborough said: "When I first noticed this, I put it away as one of those little changes, but there's something unusual about this paddle.

"You can see there's a rotary sensor there, so it's a variable thing.

"It's not him switching something off, it's him demanding either something increasing or decreasing around the car."

Ferrari is no stranger to making tweaks to controls at the back of a steering wheel.

When the FIA changed the rules ahead of the 2017 season to allow only a single clutch paddle and increase driver influence on the launches off the start line, teams introduced several modified systems.

Ferrari (above) brought in a single long, offset wishbone to allow the drivers better feeling and ability to control the traction from the rear wheels amid rules that forced linear relationship between paddle application and throttle.

Prior to that, it was possible for the clutch paddles to be mapped to give a wider window in which to make the perfect start.

But during pre-season testing last year, Lewis Hamilton ran with two paddles for the clutch that allowed the driver to place his fingers inside for greater control, which were refined between pre-season testing at the first race (below).

For May's Spanish Grand Prix in 2017, Ferrari introduced a similar solution on Vettel's steering wheel, which was initially built in titanium and then in carbon fibre.

Vettel retained the system until last year's Singapore Grand Prix, when he made a poor start and then collided with Max Verstappen, after which he reverted to the same system as Raikkonen for the Japanese Grand Prix.

shares
comments
2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg creates driver academy
Previous article

2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg creates driver academy

Next article

Manor boss John Booth ends Toro Rosso Formula 1 team role

Manor boss John Booth ends Toro Rosso Formula 1 team role
Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Plus

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title Plus

The “solemn promise” that cost quiet hero Brooks an F1 title

After two terrifying crashes, one of the best British racers of the 1950s retired before his career peaked. But that’s why GP Racing’s MAURICE HAMILTON was able to speak to Tony Brooks in 2014. Like his friend Stirling Moss, Brooks was regarded as one of the best drivers never to have won the world championship. Here, as our tribute to Brooks who died last month, is that interview in full

Formula 1
Jun 27, 2022
Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised Plus

Inside the Faenza facility where AlphaTauri’s F1 pragmatic vision is realised

AlphaTauri’s mission in F1 is to sell clothes and train young drivers rather than win the championship – but you still need a cutting-edge factory to do that. Team boss Franz Tost takes GP Racing’s OLEG KARPOV on a guided tour of a facility that’s continuing to grow

Formula 1
Jun 26, 2022
Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons Plus

Connecting two of Ferrari's favourite F1 sons

Gilles Villeneuve's exploits behind the wheel of a Ferrari made him a legend to the tifosi, even 40 years after his death. The team's current Formula 1 star Charles Leclerc enjoys a similar status, and recently got behind the wheel of a very special car from the French-Canadian’s career

Formula 1
Jun 24, 2022