IS THE ADDITIONAL PADDLE LINKED TO THE CLUTCH?
Finally, we have a good quality image of the back of the steering wheel of Sebastian Vettel. This one has one paddle more than the 2017 version (see the white arrow above).
Much has been said about the function of this paddle, which is lacking on Kimi Räikkönen’s steering wheel. If it brought a performance advantage, both drivers would have it. It does not seem to have a rotary sensor, as was thought.
Therefore, it should rather be an ergonomic preference of the German driver, who has the habit of adapting his steering wheel throughout the season, as can be seen on the pictures above.
One detail nevertheless grabs the attention. On Vettel’s 2018 steering wheel, the clutch paddle is operated with the left hand, while it was right-handed in 2017 (compare the yellow and orange arrows). On the steering wheel of his teammate, almost unchanged from last year, the clutch paddle remains activated by the right hand. However, the additional paddle for Vettel has been placed on the right, while the paddles for the up and down gearshifts are slightly asymmetrical (compare the blue arrows).
Would the role of this mysterious lever be related to the clutch? This is an assumption among many others, even though the rules, modified on this point in early 2017, are very strict.