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Race Driving Fundamentals: Where to Look

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Where to Look


00:00 - Track day enthusiasts are always talking about racing lines, braking points and car setup but vision on the circuit is one of the most overlooked aspects of improving our lap speed.
00:10 Easily, one of the most common problems seen with novice drivers is that they look at the track too close to where the track is and their vision is also too narrow.
00:20 This is a problem because if you're looking at the track just ahead of the car, you've got no idea what's coming up or what's happening ahead of you.
00:28 It makes it all but impossible to judge your braking turn in and corner exits accurately and consistently and in many cases, if there's an incident ahead of you, not looking far enough ahead can easily result in an avoidable accident.
00:43 You've possibly heard the term lift your vision but that doesn't mean just looking aimlessly at another 50 metres down the track.
00:50 It means moving our vision to the next actionable point on track.
00:55 An apex, a braking marker or a turn in point for example.
00:59 Confidence plays a big part in mastering this skill because when we lack confidence our natural tendency is to shrink our vision down and not look ahead.
01:09 Generally if you feel like you're struggling with a phase of the corner, whether it's speed or line, always think about where you're looking.
01:17 I can almost guarantee that lifting your vision will help you understand what you're doing wrong.
01:22 The most common realisation that drivers tend to come to when really focusing on their vision is that they're only looking out of the windscreen and not extending their field of vision to look out the side windows or through the A pillars.
01:35 So what exactly do we mean when we say through the A pillars? The reality is that modern cars and especially race cars have heavily restricted vision out of the front corners, thanks to chunky pillars and the roll cage structure.
01:49 While obviously we can't see through these structures, if we're seeing what's happening on each side of the A pillar, our brains can actually do a pretty amazing job of filling in the gaps with what's hidden.
02:01 This technique is critical to consistently hitting your apexes since these will often be obscured by the A pillar.
02:08 Newer drivers also have a tendency to spend time on track looking down at the speedo to gauge how fast they're travelling in corners.
02:16 This isn't something we should ever need to do.
02:19 The reality is if we have time to look at the speedo in a corner, we're simply not going fast enough.
02:27 By the time you've looked down and then back up at the track, you've travelled a fair distance and it takes some time for the brain to then readjust, meaning you're not going to be able to place the car accurately and consistently.
02:39 The more miles we do on track the more we're going to begin simply feeling the speed through the seat of our pants.
02:45 This is where consistent braking technique and the correct brake marker comes in.
02:49 If we have these right, then they will define the speed we reach the corner and how the car behaves through the corner will then let us know if we can go faster next time or perhaps we've been a little ambitious.
03:02 It's a strange concept on paper but once we tune in to our correct vision and driving techniques, the feeling for the correct speed needed will come naturally without having to look at any gauges.
03:13 Another area where vision is critical is when things go wrong.
03:17 It's a natural tendency when we're sliding towards a barrier or a tyre bundle to look at the obstacle we're hoping not to hit.
03:24 Well guess what, if you're looking at the obstacle, there's a better than average chance you're going to hit it.
03:30 Generally the car will go where we're looking so particularly when things go wrong and we're on the edge or possibly slightly beyond the edge of control, it's important to try and focus on where we want the car to go or where a clear section of track is.
03:45 You'll remember we discussed this in the oversteer module and I mentioned that we shouldn't need to think about the amount of steering lock necessary but rather if we keep looking where we want the car to go, even if that happens to be out through the passenger side window, our hands on the steering wheel will naturally follow and we've got the best chance of recovering from the slide.
04:06 Admittedly in the heat of the moment this can be tricky to do but it's your best chance to recover and keep your car in one piece so you can learn from your mistake and try to do better on the next lap.
04:18 To summarise, look where you're going to be, not where you currently are.
04:23 Always look for the next actionable point on track and begin training yourself to use your peripheral vision to keep an eye on what's happening out the sides of the car, not just what you can see through the front windscreen.
04:36 Although you can't physically see through your A pillars, with time and a little focus, your brain will start to approximate what's happening behind that blind spot and soon it'll be happening without you even noticing.

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