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How close to the apex should you be?

Race Driving Fundamentals

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How close should you clip the apex? I've watched some drivers be spot on the apex and some a little ways off. I know it depends on the corner. I tend to be a spot on driver yet feel I'm taking some speed off the corner for the sake of precision, even with trail braking. I also do sim racing. All in all, with working drills, time trials, learning new tracks, and racing other online racers, about 1.5-3 hours per day. I'm hooked. I think it's the engineer in me that is fascinated. I us Gran Turismo GT (my car is a 911 RSR). In the game you can race against Lewis Hamilton. I can't duplicate his line. I'm back 10 cars by turn 3-4. His car is on rails. It appears he takes a very wide line and at the last minute makes the turn. Unfortunately I can't see the braking and throttle inputs to know what's going on. I also watch Max Verstappen. Two very different lines. Max's line seems to be smoother in the sense that Lewis tends to "whip" around the corner at the last minute. For me, I feel more comfortable taking the shorter, slower line because if I miss-judge the corner I have some room to drift out. Am I off here? I know. It depends. Just recently I've been paying attention to the feeling of resistance in the steering wheel. My thinking is that, when turning, the resistance you feel is the scrubbing the front tires do when they are not aligned with the rear tires. I've been trying to analyze this by purposely holding the wheel loosely and reducing the throttle input and putting in more steering input only when needed to stay on the track thus letting the car determine where it should be pointed. This makes me concentrate more on putting the car in the proper position for the turn to let it do its work instead of me putting in more work on the wheel. This is easy to say, but having the constant awareness of the feeling is hard. I'm trying to come to terms with analytical side (the s/w engineer in me) vs. the feeling/awareness side. I know I'm all over the map here (and rambling)...any observations and and insight would help move me down the line (and up the finish order).



Hi Lew,

Ok, to start with let's attack your first question: "How close should you clip the apex?" As you have probably guessed, the answer is that it depends! Some corners, generally those where you are compromising your run through them to set yourself up for the next corner(s) you aren't necessarily treating them as a normal apex, in this case, the optimum line may put you nowhere near the physical apex of the corner.

If however, you're talking about a corner where you're trying to use as much of the inside of the corner as possible by trying to "hit the apex" then you want to be as close/all over it as possible. It largely depends on what's on the inside of the corner. In some cases, this might be a smooth curb which makes sense to get on top of by staying tighter. In other cases, there might be an extremely rough curb, or even a hole on the inside that will upset the car.

Remember, if you have the car loaded up laterally at the apex, the inside tyres won't have a lot of load on them, this often means there are gains to be found by shortening up the track by taking as much of the apex as possbible.

Strange, both his posts default to the same thread, so I can't add to what I said in this one?

I can't recall exactly what I said, but it was similar to Tim's comments.

What I would add is that, from your description, is that you may be aiming for an 'apex' too early in the corner - you may find the later turn in and apex clipping is overall faster. Not least because it 'should' allow you to hold a tighter line and apply the throttle earlier without running wide. On that last, it reads like you're failing to commit to the corner, expecting to mess up, rather than attacking it in confidence that there won't be a problem.

Depends on how many warnings you have gotten from the officials...

Drivers tend to be in one of two categories, those that prefer that the nose of the car goes where they steer it, with very minimal to no understeer. This will result in a car that typically will have a rear end that moves around, and the car rotates on the inside front wheel. These drivers will tend to brake a bit later and turn more aggressively into the corner from a wider line, squaring off the corner. They will start applying throttle once the car has settled and accelerate in a more straighter line. They will usually have a slightly lower Apex speed but a higher exit acceleration rate due to the straighter line that they have taken.

The other type of driver prefers to have the rear end of the car stable, due to this they can struggle to have the rotate into the corner, meaning that they have to brake earlier and scrub off more speed to allow for the front end to grip up and turn the car. Due to this requirement, they will usually have a shallower line into the corner and have some understeer at the apex. They will typically have a higher apex speed but may be slower on the throttle as they have to ensure that they keep the front tyres within the traction circle.

The rare driver is th one that can adjust their driving style to suit both ways of driving a car, and adjust it to suit the corner and track.

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