Formula One steering wheels today are ultra-complicated computerized controllers befitting their ultra-complicated cars. And Formula One steering wheels of half a century ago were super simple devices befitting their super simple cars. But the evolution between the two isn’t as straightforward as you’d expect.
This evolution video from the very wonderful Donut Media isn’t completely comprehensive as it’s working off of only one person’s steering wheel collection, but it does show how much back and forth there was in F1 tech history.
Though these steering wheels get increasingly complicated with more electronic controls through more buttons with more tasks to manage as the years wear on, there’s also lots of backtracking.
Take a look at the wheels of the mid-90s, for instance, and you can see that some drivers were running steering wheels with half a dozen buttons and switches while others had no controls on them at all. Some wheels of the ‘70s were more complicated than some in the ‘90s.
It’s remarkable, then, how much variation there is in even the cutthroat world of F1.