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Race Driving Fundamentals: Practical Demo

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Practical Demo


00:00 - In this example we're going to be analysing two laps around Highlands Motorsport Park, one from a professional driver and one from an amateur.
00:08 There's a lap time difference between these two laps of approximately 8/10th of a second so when there's such a significant lap time differential this should give us a few key areas that should be really easy and obvious wins in terms of improving lap time.
00:24 For our demonstration I am going to be using MoTeC's i2 data analysis package but irrespective of the particular system that you're using, everything that I'm going to go through here will be applicable across every analysis system that's in existence.
00:40 Now let's start by having a quick look at the data and understanding what we've got displayed.
00:46 So first of all we've got several different groups set up in i2's analysis software and over on the right hand side, just so we can get a bit of an idea of where we are, we've actually got a track map as well.
00:57 At the moment I've got the two laps overlaid one of top of the other and our pro driver in this case is the coloured lines and our amateur driver is the white lines and that's important to understand so we know which one is which when we are deciding what was different between the two laps.
01:16 The specific channels that we've got displayed, up the top here we've got our vehicle speed or corrected speed.
01:23 This is a really important channel because ultimately everything that we do to try and improve our lap time should show up with an increase in our vehicle speed.
01:33 So we should be able to look at this and get a bit of an idea on where the lap time difference is coming in and straight away we can in fact see that yes we've got a few key areas through this particular lap where there are significant variations in our car speed.
01:51 That in itself though doesn't tell us the whole story because while saying just go faster is helpful to a point, it's more about understanding what we actually need to do in order to achieve that higher vehicle speed.
02:06 So that's where the rest of this data comes in.
02:08 The next plot that we've got here is our throttle position and obviously there's a key correlation between our throttle position and our vehicle speed.
02:16 The more throttle the driver is able to use, and the earlier the driver is able to get on the throttle on a corner exit, that's obviously going to add up to more speed so again a key channel that we're going to want to analyse.
02:29 Just as importantly, our next channel down here we have our brake pressure.
02:34 So this allows us to see what the driver's doing on the brakes and just as importantly when they are using the brakes.
02:42 I'll just mention here that this particular channel is a raw value so it's not actually giving us a specific pressure but still, absolutely useful in order to see the difference between the two driving styles.
02:53 The last channel that we've got here is our steering wheel angle.
02:58 A little bit less relevant for this particular example but of course allows us to see what the driver is doing on the steering.
03:06 In a more advanced analysis this also allows us to define aspects or handling issues such as understeer and oversteer but we'll ignore that for the purposes of this demonstration.
03:18 Alright so what we're going to do now we understand what we're looking at is we're going to press F3 which in i2's analysis software brings up our variance channel which we can see has popped up up here at the top.
03:33 That variance channel is simply the cumulative lap time gain or loss between the two drivers and we can see it moving around a little bit as the drivers go through the same lap there.
03:45 And basically what we can see is we've got a zero plane down here and essentially the lap starts at zero, we're starting with no cumulative lap time gain or loss and as the two drivers move through the laps, we can see that gain/loss moving around until at the end of the lap, this is where we've got our final difference of around about 8/10 of a second.
04:07 If there was no difference in lap times we'd be back at that zero plane.
04:11 Now when we're looking at this data, our variance channel, it can be a little bit tricky to know what to make of it.
04:19 And particularly if you've got a significant difference in your lap time to your reference lap it can be a fact that there will be multiple areas where we may be able to focus on in order to get an improvement.
04:31 Initially what I'd recommend is we start by looking for maybe 1 or 2 key areas where our variance lines gradient is steepest.
04:40 When that gradient of the variance channel is steepest, this means that we are gaining or losing, probably losing, lap time at the fastest rate.
04:50 So straight away we can see we've got a very steep section of our variance channel there.
04:55 We've got another section here that probably also warrants a little bit of inspection.
05:01 But again rather than trying to focus on every area where we're losing time, to start with, it's smartest to focus on just one or two key areas so that you know what you're going to be doing next time you go out on track.
05:15 Once you've got that area dialled, you can go a little bit deeper and start looking at the other areas so definitely we want to start by focusing on the key areas where that gradient is steepest.
05:26 So on that note, this is the area we'll dive into in a little bit more detail through this example and what we want to do as well is have an understanding of where abouts this is on the racetrack.
05:38 So if we analyse this over on our track map to the right, we can see the two little crosses for our cars, we're actually coming up to a left hand/right hand chicane that leads onto the bridge at Highlands Motorsport Park.
05:52 This is a relatively high speed area of the track, this particular car is around about 170 km/h at the braking point leading onto the bridge.
06:01 This is also not a very forgiving piece of racetrack, given that the entry to the bridge is relatively tight and we've got some big concrete barriers on both sides if we don't get it right.
06:13 So let's have a look and see where this difference in time is coming from.
06:17 And we're going to do that by simply double clicking and we'll zoom into this area to give us a little bit more detail and that straight away also removes the surrounding channel data so we're only focusing on the area that we're interested in.
06:31 Now the first thing to note here is that this difference or variance is really coming from this difference in speed that we can see here, our blue trace from our pro driver is going significantly faster.
06:46 And we can actually see the delta in speed here being displayed.
06:50 So the point that I've just selected there with the cursor, the pro driver is holding 18 km/h more car speed than the amateur.
06:58 Now that's really significant which is why that variance line is changing so quickly.
07:05 We want to know where that variance is coming from, where that speed difference is coming from so let's dive in a little bit deeper here and have a look for a start at the throttle input.
07:16 So if we look at our throttle trace here, we can see that our pro driver has got off the throttle at this point where I've just placed the cursor, getting ready to jump on the brakes.
07:26 On the other hand, the amateur driver has got off the throttle, obviously much earlier there and it's around about 25 metres earlier on the track so obviously if you're not on the throttle, the car's not going to be accelerating so straight away we do start to see the gradient of our variance start to move and favour the pro driver.
07:47 Now once the drivers are both off the throttle, obviously the next act is to get on the brakes and we can see a big variance here in the braking as well.
07:57 Our amateur driver has got on the brakes at this point here.
08:01 Our professional driver at this point here, again unsurprisingly around about the same 20 odd metres difference in track distance where the two drivers have chosen their braking point.
08:11 The other thing though that's really telling here is that the amateur driver has braked much much harder than the pro driver.
08:19 We can see that with the magnitude of the braking force that has been used.
08:23 So the amateur driver is trying to wash off a lot of speed there before turning into the bridge, the pro on the other hand has just use the technique of brushing the brakes just to bleed off enough speed to allow the car to turn in, get through that chicane and maintain pace through the corner.
08:42 And that's exactly why we can see this variance in speed here, as I've mentioned we're around 17 to 18 km/h difference.
08:50 What we can see here is that on the corner exit, if we look at this point here, the amateur driver has actually been able to get on the throttle marginally earlier than the pro driver but that is simply because they didn't have anywhere near the car speed.
09:05 So basically with takeaways from this, the amateur driver needs to focus on their braking technique for this particular corner.
09:14 It would be case of building up the confidence of braking later, and I wouldn't suggest going out and braking 20 metres later on the first lap out of the pits but you can build this up slowly as we've discussed in the course.
09:27 The other aspect there will be focusing on less brake pressure and just bleeding off the speed and having the confidence of knowing that the car can get through that corner much faster than they're currently trying to attempt to go through that corner.
09:41 So this is how we can use that variance channel.
09:44 Obviously we've only looked at one area of the data there.
09:48 Once we've got that corner dialled in, we'd simply choose the next area on our variance plot where we've got that steep line, steep incline where we're losing the most time and we'd choose that point to focus on next.
10:01 In this way, with iterative improvments we can use our data analysis to really fine tune our driving, particularly when you've got a good quality reference lap from a professional driver like this.
10:12 Now obviously this has only been a very high level look at data analysis but hopefully you can understand just how powerful a package like this can be and how quickly we can dial in and find out exactly where we are losing time.
10:28 If you do want to learn more about data analysis in depth then I would highly recommend our Data Analysis Fundamentals course.

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