Ever since the start of the year, Kubica has pushed for more of the steering wheel controls to be shifted to the left-hand side of the wheel, because his injured right hand does not have as much flexibility to use buttons and dials.
But amid the team’s struggles to get on top of a tricky car, its focus has been on trying to improve its chassis and aerodynamics rather than sorting out the wheel issue.
However, since the Italian Grand Prix, Kubica finally got hold of it – with the team hopeful it would help the Pole extract more from his car.
Speaking about the change, Kubica said: “It helps. It was supposed to be a steering wheel, which [I should have had for a] start the year, but it came a bit later than start of the year.
“The difference is that two buttons are instead of right are on the left-hand side, and there is an additional paddle on the left-hand side.”
Williams’ senior race engineer Dave Robson said that the team had always planned to bring in the new wheel for Kubica, but it had to balance priorities earlier in the year which pushed back its introduction.
“It’s one of those things that, when the car is as slow as it is, or certainly was earlier in the season, it’s very hard to justify upgrades that only suit one driver,” he told Motorsport.com.
“That’s the level we’ve had to face; if we’re faced with a new steering wheel or a new front wing, how do we play that? And that’s not easy. Clearly that hasn’t helped Robert, but it’s just one of the trades we had to make unfortunately.”
Robson said that the laptime change offered by the new wheel would not be that big, but there was a benefit in helping ease some of the difficulties Kubica has had with the old layout.
“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.
“The laptime effect there is I guess the icing on the cake, which I think in terms of ultimate laptime is small, but I think it’s more that it’s been frustrating for him rather than the actual laptime loss.”