Welcome to Zooming In: the exciting new high tech video series from TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E. In each episode, our team members will give you a close-up view of the incredible technology that drives the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team.
In the first episode you’ll get to meet Vincenzo Scali, Performance Engineer for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team, who introduces us to that pivotal piece of technology:
The steering wheel.
If you thought this piece of equipment was standard, think again. In line with Formula E’s stringent regulations, all steering wheels must conform to certain specifications. That means they are made up of the same basic components. But that’s where the similarity ends. Every racing driver is different. So, we design our steering wheels around the driver. Key factors are comfort and handling – a good solid grip, come what may (be it a jump on a curb, or a bump from an over-eager competitor). Holding tight? Now it’s time to get seriously specialised.
First, we consult the drivers about the button configuration, enabling us to position the buttons on the wheel and assign their functions to match the driver’s personal preferences and driving style. This is crucial; in a high-speed sport where split-second decisions have to be made and translated into action, every microsecond we can shave off the driver’s reaction time counts.
Some functions, like brake balancing adjustment in the cockpit, are standard in most racing cars. Others are specific to Formula E: Attack mode is prime example. Hitting that button puts an additional 35kW of power at the driver’s fingertips – providing the exhilarating extra burst of speed required for overtaking. We also have to think about how often the button will be needed. Fanboost can only be used once per race, so it doesn’t need to be quite as easily deployable as, say, braking which is used in every teeth-gritting corner during the race.
Ergonomic button placement is just the tip of the engineering iceberg. What really makes the difference is the customised software at the drivers’ fingertips. Here, the only restrictions are our imagination and desire to win – and, for the TAG Heuer Porsche Formula E team, that’s insatiable. Our software developers and performance engineers relentlessly quest to give our drivers the edge through better handling and increased responsiveness.
Which brings us to the paddle controls; unfortunately, the specialised tech attached to these controls is a strictly guarded secret! So, we can’t reveal all… But, if you’re as fascinated with tech as we are, you won’t want to miss a single episode of Zooming In.