When driving other types of car, drivers usually turn the steering wheel smoothly. Sudden jerking movements are generally only needed to recover from mistakes.

In F1 the drivers constantly turn the wheel back and forth in corners, rapidly and violently twisting it as they go. That seems like a bad idea, not doing anything to help the car grip the track or reduce tyre wear or reduce lap times.

Why not point the wheel at the right angle and keep it there? The drivers surely know the ideal line, speed and amount of rotation to get through the corner, but seem to need several large adjustments anyway.

  • You do realise that they're often exceeding 200 km/h through a 50 metres corner, and don't have the luxury of turning the wheel around two full revolutions?
    – Nij
    Jun 12, 2017 at 2:13
  • 1
    Bouncing around due to very limited downforce? See the same in Indy racing, for what it's worth. Jun 12, 2017 at 4:06

1 Answer 1


An F1 car driven on the limit is often very close to crashing, oversteer is the main risk for the driver.

Oversteer is where the car wants to "swap ends" as there is so much power going through the rear wheels that they want to overtake the front, you don't tend to get this in normal road cars.

The driver of an F1 car can solve this problem by either lifting off the throttle (they don't like doing that as it slows them down!) or by steering into the oversteer, by applying opposite lock.

This is what you are generally seeing, it happens very quickly as the driver feels it starting to happen, they are doing it instinctively.

You will also see a lot of steering wheel action on bumpy circuits as the bumps can feedback through the steering.

Some cars are easier to drive, have better suspension than others and so you will see this less while some drivers also have a smoother style, Jenson Button for example.

It's difficult to predict the exact amount of oversteer the driver might encounter as it depends on tyre wear, fuel load, how "clean" the racing line is etc.

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    Been an F1 fan for long & kept hearing "oversteer" again & again never knowing what it means. Now I know. BTW what is understeer than Jun 13, 2017 at 7:15
  • Understeer is lack of grip from the front wheels, ie the car isn't turning as much as you would like it to. Think trying to go too quickly around a corner, the front will slide and you run out of road. F1 drivers will add more front downforce to try to counter this. It is easier to control than oversteer for your average driver but F1 drivers would probably prefer the latter as they can drive around the problem and it is usually quicker to have a car with oversteer vs understeer.
    – davidjwest
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:59

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