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Inside Raikkonen's Monaco office 26 May 2006

A close-up view of Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren steering wheel, as seen at the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. © FOM

On a track as tight and twisting as Monte Carlo’s you would expect a driver to have to put every ounce of concentration into steering his car. However, in reality he has far more to think about - the steering wheel doesn’t just steer the car, it also houses controls which he must constantly adjust to keep his car running at peak performance. When you see just how many controls there are, it seems incredible that he can remain focussed on negotiating the streets of the Principality without hitting the wall at the very first corner.

Ahead of this weekend’s race, former Monaco winner Kimi Raikkonen explained exclusively to us how he operates the numerous switches and buttons on the wheel of his McLaren MP4-21. Click on the image above for a larger version, and follow us on an amazing tour of Raikkonen’s office:

From top:

+1 and +10 (green, far left and far right)

Used in conjunction with the MSG OK button (marked with a cross, right) to flick through car function menus, allowing the driver to override certain functions in the case of malfunction. The MSG OK button changes the respective menu of each of the two buttons.

PLS (yellow, with P, left)
Activates the pit-lane speed limiter when entering the pits.

PTT (red, left)
Pit radio button. Used to call the pit crew via radio communication.

DRINKS (grey, left)
Provides drinking fluid to the driver. Operates an electric pump to bring the liquid from a reservoir in the cockpit through a tube to the driver’s mouth.

TC OFF (blue, left)
Switches off the traction control. Mainly used during the formation lap to allow the driver to spin the rear wheels and generate heat in the tyres. Also used when exiting the driver’s pit position, allowing wheelspin, which deposits rubber on the tarmac, providing more grip during pit stops.

A and B (black/purple, black, left)
Used to change the traction control setting ,for hi revs and low revs. The various positions enable the driver to find the correct level of traction control interevention. The optimum level changes due to numerous variables, including the level of grip provided by the tarmac, the track temperature, the amount of rubber deposited on the track etc.

Lower left switch (with positions 2 through 8)
This presets the lowest gear for each corner, allowing the driver to change down through the gearbox quickly, without fear of selecting too low a gear.

C, D and E (black/red, black/white, black/blue, along base of wheel)
These switches adjust the car’s differential setting. These depend on various factors related to the overall set up of the car, the fuel load variation, low gear revs and high gears revs.

F (black/green, bottom right)
This button - a very important one - operates and changes the engine braking settings. As the race progresses and the car’s brakes become gradually less efficient, it is useful to be able to increase the amount of engine braking action.

G (black/yellow, right)
This button sets the rev limit for the engine - the highest revs it can reach in each gear before changing up. A higher setting allows the driver to extract more performance; a lower setting puts less stress on the engine.

H (black/orange, right)
This switch changes specific traction control and differential settings in accordance with the tyres being used - grooved, intermediate or wet - to account for the different levels of grip provided by each type.

R (red, right)
Allows the driver to select neutral and reverse gear.

OT (yellow, right)
The overtaking button. This temporarily increases the engine’s maximum rev limit when extra power is needed for a short period. When the button is released the rev limit returns to its default setting.