Does your Porsche have an "overtake" button? How about a button for the automated "drink system". I'm guessing it doesn't. However, those are just 2 of the 24 buttons on the Porsche 919 Steering Wheel. Combine those with 6 paddles, 5 rotary dials and a honking big screen in the middle of it and you get one mighty complex steering wheel. As Porsche said in their press release about it, "setting the direction is the most trivial task of the steering wheel in the Porsche 919 Hybrid". Let's take a closer look.
- It's called a wheel, but in reality it's a flat rectangle. Porsche designed it this way to help with driver changes. The rectangle shape makes it easier for tall drivers like Webber to get in and out quickly without having to remove the 919's steering wheel.
- Distilled down to simple terms, the drivers have a computer in their hands and at their fingertips. The large display in the center provides information on everything from speed to to the charge status of the lithium ion battery.
- The most frequently used buttons are positioned along the top outside edge, so they are easily reached with the thumb. The blue button at the top right which is almost always in use, is the headlamp flasher, used by fast prototypes, like the Porsche 919, to warn the slower vehicles in the WEC field before they are lapped.
- The red button at the top left must be used judiciously. The "overtake button" or the "boost button" is used to demand electrical power from the battery (this is the "boost). The drivers can "boost" to pass but must be careful about rationing the power as they are only allowed so much per lap based on the rules. So, the amount of energy a driver uses in the middle of a lap to get free of the traffic isn't available at the end in the straightaways and won't become available again until the next lap.
The 5 Rotary Switches
There are two rotary switches labled 'Multi', each correspond with the other. The left one is available for ABC settings, the right one is number-based. Specialized and proprietary settings for engine management and/or fuel management are designated by combinations such as A2 or B3. The three other rotary switches work to pre-select the brake balance, set the traction control for wet or dry conditions and the hybrid strategy.
The Composition Of The Porsche 919 Steering Wheel And The 6 Paddle Shifters
The wheel itself is made of carbon and the grip handles are covered in slip-resistant rubber. The six paddles on the back of the steering wheel work as follows:
- The center paddles are used for changing gears – pulling the right paddle is for upshifting, and pulling the left paddle is for downshifting.
- The lowermost paddles on either side operate the clutch. 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"; the same as the red button on the front; whether the drivers use the paddle or the button is matter of driver preference.
- 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.
Other Porsche Blog Posts You Might Enjoy
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Exclusive Tech Feature: The Porsche 919 Hybrid
The Rules Of Hybrid Systems In The WEC