A short film has been released by Ferrari highlighting how the Italian manufacturer designed and developed the steering wheel for its 499P Hypercar. Drawing on its engineers’ inspiration and feedback from test drivers, the 499P’s wheel features more than 500 components, and enables the driver to manage the hybrid powertrain, change the drive settings and communicate with the pit wall or garage.
The engineers first designed the steering wheel in 3D to define its layout, ergonomics, and the association of button functions to determine the electronic interface.
“From the first sketch to the prototypes used in testing all the way to the inaugural race of the FIA WEC 2023, the steering wheel has evolved to adapt to the demands of performance and functionality,” explained Benedicte Prioul, GT and sports race cars, electronics and controls manager. “The starting point was the 296 GT3, which we had conceived from scratch. We evolved that steering wheel to create a new interface for the Hypercar.”
Development of the steering wheel took about a year and a half, with a team of 10 working to create a final version, complete with touch controls, levers and a central screen. Test drivers were then used by the OEM to ensure the layout was ergonomically correct and that all the systems worked as they should.
“Their support was essential. Only drivers can turn what we imagined into a tool to achieve top performance,” said Prioul. “The drivers must be able to monitor the most important data and communications at all times, day and night, at top speeds, when cornering and when the cockpit is exposed to considerable vibrations.”