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Race Driving Fundamentals: The Cornering Phases

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The Cornering Phases


00:00 - In this section of the course, we're going to focus on another one of the key areas where you're likely to be losing time on the track, cornering.
00:07 Getting the cornering sequence right requires an understanding of the process and you also need to build up an understanding of what your car is capable of so you're able to exploit the available grip.
00:18 Can take some time for a novice driver, particularly when on slicks to realise just how much grip is available and conversely just how much speed they can use at the apex of the corner.
00:30 Of course it's always advisable to start out slowly and build up your speed until you find those limits.
00:36 With that out of the way, let's start by breaking a corner down into its different phases.
00:40 Ultimately there are 6 separate stages we go through in a corner if we look at what we're doing with the throttle, brake and steering so let's have a look at them in detail.
00:51 The first stage of cornering really has nothing to do with turning at all.
00:54 This is all about braking.
00:58 We've already detailed this in the previous section so I won't repeat it here but this part of the cornering process is all about reducing our speed in a straight line to get the car down to the correct speed to allow it to turn into the corner.
01:10 Next we move onto trail braking which we've also covered.
01:14 Here we're reducing our brake pressure to free up grip on the front wheels to allow the car to be turned into the corner.
01:20 We're smoothly reducing our brake pressure as we turn the steering wheel and head towards the apex.
01:26 Remember that the trail braking technique is not just about slowing the car, it also allows us to manipulate the handling balance.
01:34 Once we're off the brake completely we'll have a period of time where we're neither braking nor accelerating as we transition from one pedal to another.
01:43 This is an area where there's a lot of myths around what you should be doing on the throttle and we'll get into this in more detail shortly.
01:50 The next stage is where we transition the apex of the corner and here we'll usually be completely off the throttle and rolling to allow us to achieve maximum lateral cornering force.
02:01 Once we've made it past the apex we'll begin exiting the corner which is where we can start to reduce the steering lock.
02:08 This in turn frees up available grip to allow the throttle to be smoothly increased.
02:13 Finally in the last stage we're back at full throttle and accelerating down the next straight.
02:19 While that covers what we're doing with the driver inputs, we can actually simplify things a little further.
02:25 Let's think of a corner as consisting of 3 distinct phases.
02:30 We start with the corner entry or turn in as the first phase.
02:34 This is where we're leaving the straight and beginning to turn the steering wheel to set ourselves up on the correct line through the corner.
02:41 In this phase we're combining both braking and steering inputs and riding the rim of the traction circle.
02:48 Next we have the mid corner phase where we should have the car set up to neatly clip our desired apex point.
02:53 This is where we'll be at our maximum steering angle and the car will be generating maximum lateral G force.
03:00 Consequently here we need to avoid the temptation to accelerate as if we're at the optimum speed, there's no excess grip available.
03:08 The last cornering phase is our corner exit which is where we're releasing the car from the corner, reducing our steering lock and beginning to apply throttle to accelerate away.
03:18 Now that we have a basic overview of these 3 phases, we're going to dive further into each in more detail in the upcoming modules.
03:26 An important thing to keep in your head here is that during all of these 3 phases, we want to be conscious of the way we're using the driver inputs.
03:35 We've said it before and we'll say it again, smooth is fast and what we want to do is make sure that we apply this to our brake, throttle and steering inputs.
03:44 When we're going through the cornering phases, we want to do our best to make one smooth and continuous movement on each of the inputs.
03:52 For example as we're applying throttle on the corner exit we want a smooth and consistent increase back to 100%.
04:00 This will minimise weight transfer and maximise grip.
04:03 Smooth inputs also don't result in abrupt changes to weight transfer that can unsettle the car.
04:10 This is easy to say and harder to do but trying to remain conscious of how you're using the inputs will be a big help here.
04:17 Particularly when you're starting out, your inputs are likely to be sharp and erratic and this is something you need to focus on improving.
04:24 And important thing to note here is that each corner phase needs to be done correctly in order to then set ourselves up for the next, a bit like a snowball effect.
04:34 If we get this right then by the time we're at the corner exit, getting back on the throttle at the correct time will feel natural and perhaps even unavoidable.
04:43 If we overslow the car too much on entry on the other hand, we'll feel the need to add slight throttle mid corner to speed up again and this will most likely compromise our corner exit phase.
04:54 So the main thing to consider when applying these lessons found in this section is to practice each phase in order of the corner's approach.
05:02 Don't work backwards.
05:03 If for example you feel like you are on the throttle too late at the corner exit, don't look at what you need to improve at the exit, instead look at what's going on in the previous phases and refer to the traction circle when deciding how to fix the issue at the phase that you're struggling with.
05:20 This is something we need to be constantly adjusting and thinking about every single corner, of every single lap.
05:26 If we can start consistently nailing each phase of the corner, we'll find that our lap times won't just end up being lower but also far more consistent too.
05:35 Besides winning races, gaining this consistency will help you as a driver to understand how your car is truely handling and any areas that you may want to improve, simply because inconsistent driving is taken out of the equation.
05:49 In summary, the key takeaways here are that there are 3 main phases that go into any corner.
05:54 Turn in, mid corner and corner exit.
05:57 There's a lot that happens within those phases but they can essentially be broken down into 6 individual steps, each of which needs to be perfected in order to squeeze the most speed out of any corner.

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