We are all striving for the perfect lap or the perfect race but mistakes happen.
Don’t dwell on a mistake, put it behind you and concentrate on the next corner. You can’t change whats already happened and you can’t make up the time loss all in the next bend. Focus on getting the next corner right, then the next. Live in the ‘now’ not the past.
Ideally you should always aim to do each input a maximum of once per corner:
If you have to do any of those things more than once you have made a mistake somewhere: turned too early; turned in too fast or; got on the gas too early.
Go back to basics and simplify the corner and the laptime will improve.
Only focus on the next corner. Don’t get caught up in how many laps in your stint or the mistake you made on the last corner.
Keep your focus on what you can do something about: the next corner. Once you’ve done that focus on the next corner, then the next one.
All of a sudden you will have improved your pace, finished your stint or corrected your mistake.
Any opportunity you get to jump in with another driver on track, take it. You can always learn something from it, even if its that your styles are so different what you are experiencing is not relevant to the way you drive, you’ve learned there is another way to do it.
Every day there is an opportunity to improve your track driving. If you are fortunate to be at a track the the opportunity to improve is obvious, but what about the other days?
Read a book, you will find an excellent one in the shop
Review old data or in-car video from previous races/tests, even if its old, critique it and learn from it.
Look up other drivers in-car videos on the net (here for example), critique them and learn from them.
Spend a few minutes practicing getting your mind focused. The more you do this the easier it becomes when you are in the assembly area prior to qualifying.
Do some exercise, the fitter you are the longer you can keep your lap times and concentration up when it matters.
In short, do something everyday, even if its just 5 mins and it will all add up.
Technique is king, as it is in all equipment based sports but your individual style is also important.
I was fortunate to work recently on an event with a couple of legends of the sport and looking at their data showed near identical lap times but wildly different styles: one attacked corner entry; the other was all about mid corner speed.
This shows that although you should focus on your technique, get the basics right, but tune them to your style. Forcing a different technique can challenge your confidence and driving fast is a confidence game.
Todays tip is an interview with the Formula One driver coach Rob Wilson. It’s a podcast interview from the excellent Motorsport Magazine. During the interview he talks about two of the fundamental aspects of competitive driving: management of weight distribution across the four tyres and maximising the time travelling in a straight line by shortening the corner.
Your interaction with the road and hence your ability to accelerate, brake and corner is with the tyres and the amount of grip they generate is entirely down to the weight being pressed down on them. Moving the weight of the car around each of the tyres in the right way maximises the grip where and when you want it. We talked recently about braking and by building the brake pressure quickly but progressively so the front tyres, that are doing the most work, increase their grip and hence the amount of brake pressure you can ultimately use. Never ‘surprise’ the car by doing anything suddenly always progressively and smoothly move the weight to where you want it, be it cornering, braking or accelerating, to build the grip. Remember that if you are driving a ‘downforce’ car your effective weight on each tyre increases dramatically with speed and allows you to perform your inputs faster but the same rules of physics apply, its just a more extreme window you can work in.
When thinking about shortening the corner its useful to have a bit of context: Historically, you would aim to get the car turned into a corner then pick up the gas as early as possible, feeding in the power as you gently unwound the steering, drifting the car out to the outer edge of the track on a shallowing arc, maximising your mid corner speed and giving a long graceful arc through the bend. This worked due to the relative lack of lateral grip of the skinny cross-ply tyres of old. Modern tyres require a more aggressive, and certainly less balletic, approach. In short, your minimum corner speed, or apex speed, is a lot less critical now and is comparatively slower compared to the relative entry and exit speeds when compared to the traditional approach above. With the higher lateral gip level available from modern tyres you need to maximise your corner entry speed, get the car stopped and turned at the apex then exit in a straighter, more diagonal, line to allow you to get on the gas harder and get full throttle as quickly as possible.