Driving 101

These tips are targeted to the least experienced drivers, and will hopefully be useful to improve your racecraft. The tips are in a random order.

Look Ahead

Only focusing on the front of your car is not good enough. You need to look further ahead.

For example, let’s say that there is an incident somewhere in front. If you only see it when you are close to it, there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

This example is probably obvious, but looking ahead also has a profound effect on your lap time and consistency. Especially when you apply the following:

  • When you are on a straight, start looking at your braking point.
  • When you reach your braking point, look at the apex.
  • When your car is settled and you are going to hit the apex, look at the exit point on the outside.

Do so and you will hit your marks (e.g. apex) in a much more natural and consistent way.

They Are Analog Pedals, Not On/Off Buttons

Nobody would think to use 100% of the brakes all the time (we hope).

Yet, we quite often see people jumping on the gas pedal aggressively, immediately going to 100% throttle. This really is not good for the car.

One possibility is that it will cause wheelspin if the rear tyres break traction, with consequent rise in tyre temperature and possible loss of control. Alternatively, it easily leads to understeer since the weight is transferred too abruptly across the car.

Either way you are going to lose time.

Late Braking Is Not That Important

If you are 2 or 3 seconds off the pace, the reason is not that you are braking too early.

When you are leaving that much time on the track, you are probably using a sub-optimal line.

The advise is always the same:

  • First concentrate on running the correct line;
  • Then concentrate on getting a good exit;
  • Only as a final step: try to see if you can brake later.

Don’t Brake Too Much

This is something we see really often.

Many slower drivers brake quite late, but then brake a lot. They enter the corner too slow and with the car unsettled at the same time, which is not conductive to nice and smooth lines. Then, being too slow mid-corner, they stomp on the gas creating more problems.

Instead, brake early and gently. The car will like it and you will go faster.

An interesting exercise that we recommend you to do: drive laps around Lime Rock Park without ever touching the brakes. You’ll be surprised by how fast you can go. And it might also teach you about smoothness and weight transfer.

It Is Not The Set Up

If you are a couple of seconds off pace, the problem is very unlikely to be the setup. Unless of course you do something really wrong, like going with high wings at Monza, a set is only worth a few tenths, not much more.

There is one exception: if you are driving a setup that you cannot handle, it will cost you both in lap time and race consistency.

It doesn’t matter if others go with ultra-low wings or whatever. Choose a set that suits your preference, ability and driving style.

You are more than welcome to try to go outside your comfort zone from time to time, trying to improve, but spinning out every two laps is not going to teach you how to drive faster.

There Is More Than Hotlapping

Do not simply practice with a qualify setup and low fuel. Go for long stints as well. You will learn to stay focused and to deal with a changing car and tyres, which in turn will help you develop a better understanding and better car control.

Use All The Track

We all know the idea to cornering: outside, then apex and outside again. This allows for a shallower and thus faster line through the corner.

‘Outside’ means as close to the edge of the track as possible. We see many people staying a half car or more away from the track edge on entry. Not a good thing.

The Less You Travel, The Faster Your Laptime

We often see people going from one side of the track to the other when there is a series of fast corners. We also see people staying on the outside of very long, flat out, sweeping corners (for instance from the last corner to the finish line at Interlagos).

Doing so increases the distance you have to cover in a lap. It is only a tenth or two, but it is time you can gain without effort.