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Race Driving Fundamentals: Practical Discussion

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Practical Discussion


00:00 - We've just gone through the module on weight transfer and I think particularly for those newer to driving on a racetrack, this is probably a reasonably foreign concept so we're going to dive into this a bit with Andrew.
00:11 And for a start, weight transfer at least at the higher levels of racing, this is something that race drivers are focusing on a lot in terms of getting the most out of the car? - Yeah sure it's something that you're forever thinking about in terms of how you're braking, how you're releasing the brake, how you're getting on the gas.
00:30 It just feels like a balancing act, using the car underneath you and trying to get that weight transfer right and not overloading the tyres by not underloading the tyres.
00:40 It's a real fine balance, it literally feels like you're rolling the car around.
00:44 - And I think balance is really the key concept here.
00:48 I think again most novices would assume that the car, the handling balance of the car, it is what it is, we can't do anything to really fix that and if we've got a car that's understeering at corner entry or a car that's oversteering at corner exit or mid corner, then the fix for that is hardware, parts on the car, spring rates, dampers, etc.
01:09 But now we know that we actually can influence this significantly with our driver inputs? - Yeah sure I really see that as well where say someone has a lot of understeer in their car and they actually exaggerate their issue that they're doing to create that understeer more, they're not trying to change their driving style to fix it, they just end up pushing themselves further down the road of making the car understeer more so that's where you've always got to come back and think about right, what am I doing, how can I change my driving to change the weight transfer to manipulate some of that handling.
01:42 - I think your key point there is just having that in the back of your mind when you're on the track and understanding now from this module how we can impact the handling balance.
01:52 There's subtleties here as well because of course yes we can adjust the handling balance with our driver input but of course one of the common mistakes is a driver coming into a corner way too fast, still trying to do maximum braking and trying to turn the wheel.
02:07 Well that's another problem, that's not really weight transfer, we're just asking for too much from the tyres so it's really a case of focusing on where is the actual problem.
02:16 Now another aspect that we brought into that topic as well is the concept of grip.
02:22 Now I know this is a subtle concept that a lot of probably even really fast race drivers may not really have a good grip on, excuse the pun there, a good grip on what is actually happening.
02:32 What I'm getting at here is the concept that when we do have weight transfer around the car, of course if we're measuring the weight at all four corners of the car it's moved around, we've got more weight in some areas than others but the total weight obviously hasn't changed, the car weighs what it weighs but instead what we've actually got is a reduction in grip overall when we've got weight transfer.
02:52 Can you talk to us a little bit about whether this is something that race drivers need to understand or keep in mind? - It's something that is definitely worth keeping in mind.
03:01 It's the understanding where as a driver you're constantly not focusing on exactly the amount of weight that's on each corner, you're focusing on, say you've arrived at a corner and you've got a bit of understeer on the entry, you're thinking about what handling changes you can make to the car to move that weight around differently and just getting that side of it right but that's probably the better way to explain from a driver's point of view and how we see it.
03:25 - And I think as with a lot of these concepts, it's not necessary to be fast on track to understand the deep physics behind what's happening with the car but it also doesn't hurt to have that knowledge but really when we break it all down, the key here is to minimise our weight transfer around the car to maximise grip.
03:44 And that might sound a little bit ambiguous, but when we really get down into the nitty gritty, this is a case of being smooth is fast? - Yeah sure and there may be the odd occasion where some corners, you are struggling with understeer so maybe you are throwing that little bit more weight forward to try get the car to rotate but obviously it's a balance because if you go too far, you might break through that grip on it so it is a balance, especially high speed corners you're never really throwing weight around, you are being as smooth as you can but sometimes on a tighter corner, say you're coming into an S bend and it's a quick back to the left again, you might want to just tap the brake that little bit harder to throw that weight a bit further forward to get the car rotated but if you've got a car that's oversteering, the opposite, you would probably want to be a bit smoother off the accelerator pedal to let it rotate so yeah.
04:31 - I think there's two aspects there, one, it's very difficult to put a generalisation around how we should drive every car on every racetrack.
04:40 That's just simply not the case so we do need to manipulate that.
04:43 So it's a case again of understanding what's going on.
04:46 You also talked about braking through the traction or grip that's available and we talked in the module about the Scandinavian flick which is a really good example of this.
04:56 So just need to be mindful that if our driver inputs are really aggressive, in some instances the weight transfer can actually essentially blow through the suspension travel in a very softly sprung car and that can be a negative for us, losing grip where we're actually trying to achieve more grip? - Yeah of course, don't get me wrong, the Scandinavian flick's a hell of a lot of fun but it is definitely not the fastest way and there might be times where you just do need to throw that little bit of weight where the weather changes or something along those lines and that's where maybe you are throwing the car that little bit harder but as you were sort of pointing to before, different cars take different inputs to get it right and it's not even different cars sometimes, sometimes it's just, it might be a different day or the track's changing so your inputs change.
05:40 And that comes with years of experience as well, it's just something that is really important to keep in mind and not a lot of drivers think about it, especially drivers coming up through the ranks say from karting, they're so focused on driving how they are in a cart and not waiting for that weight transfer to happen, they're so focused on just getting to the next corner, getting on the gas early but they're not letting that weight transfer around.
06:04 You've just got to keep it in the back of your mind.
06:06 It does become a natural instinct but it does take a bit of time to just get the hang of it.
06:12 - And again really it's just understanding that that concept exists which hopefully now we've reinforced so let's move on.

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