As with many of the parts that contribute to the success of some of the fastest machines on the planet, Formula One wheels have been perfected over the course of more than 60 years of professional racing.
The wheels you see adorning cars driven by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have morphed substantially from the rims-with-spokes design that supported F1 cars in the immediate post-war years.
The light but relatively brittle design used back then was, in fact, not technically a wheel, although the greater load that came with faster speeds meant that change had to occur during the fifties.
The early versions of the first true F1 wheel did not resemble the modern wheel in a technical sense. The axle was connected to the flange by a metal plane, and the wheels, which were made of steel, were usually composed of two parts--the wheel itself and the rim. These were fastened together by welding or rivets.
Subsequently, the flat wheel was shaped to improve its ability to cope with lateral loads, although wheels of this design still continued to be relatively heavy.
The next major development came with the introduction of six-spoke cast wheels made from light aluminum and magnesium alloys. These wheels appeared in Europe by the early sixties, and continued as a feature in professional racing cars until the early nineties. Initially, racing teams cast the wheels themselves before sourcing them from specialists.