McLaren design 4-paddle steering wheel for torque control

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McLaren have recently been using steering wheels with 4 paddles, rather than the usual two. The 'telegraph' have reported that, while the upper paddles are used for conventional up and downshifting, the additional levers allow the driver to select a different engine mapping, independently from the gear shifting.

The currently used standard engine control unit enable to teams to program a number of predefined engine mappings, optimising traction or driveability in different conditions or at different speeds. The new system enables the driver to change gears and simultaneously change to a different engine mapping by pulling the paddles at the same time. Most importantly, it looks to be allowed by current regulations as these only stipulate that engine mappings can only be changed by the driver. Any automatic change acting upon a gear shift is forbidden.

Already considered a manual traction control system, the drivers have not the ability to effectively limit wheel spin when accelerating out of slow corners while not reducing power at higher speeds. When finally considered legal by the FIA, Ferrari is likely to be quick and copy the system to recover from their current performance deficit.


By Saribro on 22-07-2008 at 00:17

Weren't those extra paddles for the clutch?

By Steven on 22-07-2008 at 00:21

Well I haven't been able to confirm the story from the team, although I think the paddle-controlled clutch was replaced by a button.

Anyway, the drivers don't need to use the clutch manually when shifting gears, so the clutch paddles could as well be multifunctional.

By johny on 22-07-2008 at 00:24

as far as i remember, mclaren steering wheel has 6 paddles, two groups of 2 paddle (shift gears and this system) and the classical ones for clutch.

By Steven on 22-07-2008 at 00:28

Any pics johny?

By johny on 22-07-2008 at 00:32

i'm searching...

By johny on 22-07-2008 at 00:54

here's one but my screen is so dark and i can't see anything ... npic21.jpg

By Saribro on 22-07-2008 at 02:47

Also, I seem to recall reading (maybe in an column) that the ECU will wait 90 seconds before engaging a new engine map to prevent exactly this sort of thing (and launch control, but the column or article I read it in mentioned teams taking the performance hit on the first lap to get a launch-map active for the start).

By Erotamu on 22-07-2008 at 02:53


By Saribro on 22-07-2008 at 02:56

Found that column :). ... z&id=42139

By peroa on 22-07-2008 at 09:09

The problem is that there is absolutely nothing about these famous 90 sec. int the FIA regulations available on the internet.

By Steven on 22-07-2008 at 09:30

@peroa: Actually I have the ECU specs (at least the FIA requirements for the unit) at home and I can't recall me seeing it. I will check when I get home though.

By peroa on 22-07-2008 at 09:53

I`m 100 % sure you won`t find anything.

We had this before, in 2004? or 2005? (after they banned the LC and automatic gearboxes), when so called "experts" on TV said that the TC at the start kicks in only after reaching 100 km/h.

I`m still laughing about that one ...

By Steven on 22-07-2008 at 18:12

Well, asked a bit around. It appears as if that 90 second rule only validates for in the beginning of the race.

Additionally, it is believed that McLaren already have this in place since the beginning of the season, while Renault have introduced a similar system in Silverstone.

By JVogt on 23-07-2008 at 11:55

I can't remember my source for this but the 90 second thing is that the FIA allows the drivers to use a specific launch throttle map at the start to aid driveability but that they can't change back to a 'race' throttle map until 90 seconds after the start - the result of which is that they only marginally change the settings so as to not too severely compromise their performance on the rest of the opening lap.

By gcdugas on 24-07-2008 at 08:40

It has come to my attention that this is far less new than we think. Some in car shots from Fernando last year show the "extra" levers and this was well before the std. ECU with the TC ban.

By Steven on 24-07-2008 at 12:36

Well they must have been for another reason then, because with their own ECU's, team had such a number of engine mappings that they automatically changed them at the same time as a gearchange (which is now forbidden)

By freedom_honda on 25-07-2008 at 01:28

i gotta say that its a VERY clever design actually.

By JohnDoyle on 25-07-2008 at 19:38

yeah same here looks quite the part.

By Dolenc on 30-07-2008 at 18:06


By Dolenc on 30-07-2008 at 18:11

BY maranello575 (he can't post a comment, despite he is logged in)

Have a look at this pictures here:

I have put red arrows on the picture right at the bottom of the page. It seems there really are 2 paddles for clutch and 4 other paddles (2 for gear change and 2, probably, for engine map change)

In article on this link (which you probably don't understand, it's Slovenian) I pointed out that it is also possible to have the funcion for changing engine map integrated in paddles for gear shifts, so it's not visible from the outside. Maybe some other team has done it like that...

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