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Race Driving Fundamentals: Driving Position

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Driving Position


00:00 - So far in this course, we've concentrated on the techniques and skills you'll need to develop if you want to progress as a driver.
00:07 But there's more to going fast than just driving technique.
00:11 Sometimes something as simple as what we broadly refer to as ergonomics or how we're positioned in the car and relative to the controls can make all the difference.
00:21 What's more, it's an easy win, with a small investment of time and effort, potentially having a big payoff.
00:28 So let's start by looking at our driving position which is something that's far too commonly ignored.
00:34 Drivers often don't put the time or thought into making sure that they're sitting correctly in the car but getting it right does more than just make you comfortable, it also helps correct issues like poor hand position on the wheel which can improve your ability to control the car accurately as well as making it easier to make fast inputs in response to something like a slide.
00:55 For example let's say we're too far away from the steering wheel.
00:59 Since we can't reach the top of the steering wheel from this position, that's going to mean we end up shuffling the wheel between our hands which is never a good thing but we'll get back to that in a minute.
01:09 Thankfully there are a few simple references we can use to make sure that we're getting it right.
01:15 Let's first consider the distance between ourselves and the steering wheel.
01:19 This can most easily be figured out by sitting with our shoulders into the back of the seat, we can then stretch our arm out and we should be able to rest our wrists on the top of the steering wheel with our arms straight.
01:31 This defines the absolute maximum distance we should sit from the wheel.
01:35 Any further than this, like we touched on earlier, we'll end up not being able to reach the top of the steering wheel which is going to naturally cause us to shuffle our hands as we move through a corner and turn the steering wheel.
01:48 If we're sitting the correct distance from the wheel, we end up with a bend at our elbows of approximately 45° when the wheel is pointing straight ahead and we're holding it at the 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock position.
01:59 This places our arms in a position where we have a good range of motion and can apply enough force to the wheel to achieve good control.
02:08 I've just touched on this but it's equally important to also consider where we should be holding the steering wheel.
02:15 Besides some exceptions when it comes to the likes of vintage racecars with very large steering wheels and physically demanding steering, our hands should always be locked on the steering wheel at a 9 and 3 o'clock position and at no stage should we be shuffling the steering wheel through our hands.
02:32 This is something we see a lot of novice drivers doing at a hairpin corner even when their technique around the rest of the track is solid.
02:40 Realistically the only time our hands should be moving is to make in car adjustments or to change gears.
02:46 Just look at a modern GT3 racecar.
02:49 The steering wheels are now just two hand grips at the 9 and 3 o'clock positions because that's all that's needed.
02:57 Shuffling hands isn't a good idea for a multitude of reasons.
03:00 One being that we won't be as fast or as accurate with the steering input with this technique and another is that by the time we let the wheel slip through and readjust our hands, we're instantly losing a feel for what the car is doing through the steering feedback.
03:14 Another important thing to consider when setting ourselves up correctly is the distance between us and the brake pedal.
03:21 Set up correctly we should be able to hit the brake pedal as hard as we can without the underside of our thigh pressing down on the seat.
03:29 When this happens we lose brake pedal control because some of the energy will go into pushing us up out of the seat rather than just the brake pedal.
03:38 We also want to make sure that even with maximum brake force being applied to the pedal, our leg still has a slight bend at the knee.
03:46 If our leg is locked out at full extension, we lose the ability to properly control and modulate the brake pedal.
03:52 This can also be potentially dangerous in a crash as we're more likely to end up with a broken leg.
03:58 We've been talking a lot about adjusting our driving position but what are we actually adjusting here? It comes down to a combination of the seat, the pedals and the steering wheel to get things just right.
04:11 There's no single answer and sometimes our decision will be driven by the amount of adjustability available in our specific car.
04:18 Ideally we'd get the seat into a position that provides the best possible vision and once that's correct, the next step is going to be adjusting the steering and pedals to suit the seating position.
04:29 Of course there's only so far we can adjust the pedals and steering in and out or up and down or maybe not at all in some road cars so this is where a little bit of compromise comes in, in order to get all areas as correct and as comfortable as possible.
04:44 Even visibility out of the car is a compromise when choosing the seat position because one of the main factors defining our visibility is the height of the seat in the chassis.
04:54 The advantage of mounting the seat low in the car is that it moves the weight of the driver down and anything we can do to lower the centre of gravity can be an advantage.
05:04 But we don't want to do that at the expense of being able to see the racetrack properly.
05:09 It doesn't matter how low the centre of gravity is if we can't see where we're going.
05:14 A rough guide to use here is to ensure that you can see the track approximately one car length ahead of you.
05:21 What this module really comes down to is that focusing on getting these driving position fundamentals right before you head to the track will put you in the best position to be able to use all of the driving techniques you've learned so far and besides having the best control and best vision, being comfortable in the driver's seat is also going to reduce driver fatigue over longer stints in the car.

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