With over 500 buttons to push, it's a team effort

It has been revealed that Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes race car has 508 different settings. And those are the adjustments he can make on his steering wheel alone.

Force India driver Sergio Perez chuckles at the mention of the technology overload. His own steering wheel is equally loaded with adjustment possibilities.

"I don't know if it's 508 but certainly we have a lot of tools to play around," the Mexican told The Sunday Times at an interview arranged by the team's information and communications technology partner NEC.

"That's why we need the help from the team with the configuration especially when you are having problems. You have to reset it, to program it again, it's like a computer. And you have to do it while you are at 300kmh."

It is clear that Perez and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg are keen to emphasise the collective effort of their team as they hunt for their best finish of fourth place in the constructors' standings.

 
 
 
 
 

While they do not have a wealth of resources to tackle the big boys of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull as individual drivers, they are strong as a duo in vying with Williams, who are fourth on 111 points, three ahead of the Force India outfit owned by tycoon Vijay Mallya.

With Perez starting 10th and Hulkenberg eighth, while the Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa are 11th and 12th respectively, the battle for fourth is heating up in Singapore.

Hulkenberg is confident of a good display, saying: Usually our car likes this kind of track - low speed, twisty corners, more downforce, more braking.

"We are focusing on the bigger picture and that is to get the best out of the package we have... And if days like Spa come again, when the big ones struggle or have problems, we have to be there, ready to score points."

For Perez, who was third this year in Monaco and Baku, he is hungry for more. He said: "I've been to podiums this year and if I can do another podium, it will be amazing. It's something that makes me feel extremely proud. For the driver, it's the biggest thing you can have."

Wang Meng Meng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline 'With over 500 buttons to push, it's a team effort'. Print Edition | Subscribe