Williams driver Robert Kubica‘s reduced movement in his right arm as a result of his horrible accident in the Rally of Andorra in 2011 has led to Williams manufacturing him a specially modified steering wheel designed to help him better access buttons and knobs that drivers use to alter the settings of the car mid-race.
The adapted steering wheel was something Kubica requested at the start of the season, but wasn’t to appear until the Italian Grand Prix in September.
This was as a result of the team prioritising updates that would (in theory) give its FW42 more of a time and performance advantage in an attempt to get back on par with the competition Williams found themselves a lengthy distance behind at the start of the year.
Whereas team mate George Russell‘s steering wheel has the controls evenly distributed on either side, Kubica’s new wheel sees the majority shifted over to the left side, along with an extra paddle.
The new wheel also features a right hand grip that is more, well, ‘grippier’, to allow Kubica’s damaged right hand to get more purchase.
“It just makes it a little bit easier to access all the functions. You see particularly George [Russell] does a huge amount around the lap, switch changes, which do help him. And this new wheel makes it more accessible and easier for Robert as well.” said the oft-quoted Dave Robson, Williams’ senior race engineer.
“I think in terms of ultimate laptime [it] is small, but I think it’s more that it’s been frustrating for him rather than the actual laptime loss.”
So the wheel is unlikely to translate directly into improved laptimes, however, its designed to make Kubica feel more comfortable in the car which could indirectly allow him to get more from a car that he’s found as yet difficult to master.