Giorgio Piola’s history of F1 steering wheel evolution

The first changes were really all about ergonomics and making the drivers more comfortable with their surroundings, but as time progressed the customization level increased dramatically, with almost every driver having their own signature aspects incorporated into their wheel design.


Steering wheel Mansell, Prost, Patrese, Senna, Berger

Photo by: Giorgio Piola

At this stage of his career, Giorgio Piola was working with Nardi and Personal on their steering wheels. And, whilst they were based in the same factory, the former (a more prestigious brand) only supplied steering wheels to McLaren.

This allowed Piola to work closely with each driver to give them the individuality in their steering wheel they desired. The wheel was not only an expression of their singularity but also gave insight into their driving style, which as we can see here from this comparative illustration resulted in some very different shapes and sizes.

For example, Mansell, who was known for wrestling with his car, opted for an extremely small diameter rim, whilst also having the thickest grip too. Even so, for two years in a row, a new wheel rim had to be supplied after the Belgian GP, as he exerted enough force on the wheel rim through Eau Rouge and Raidillon that it resulted in him…

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