9 Core tips and driving techniques for all drivers.


Shawn Purdy On May 10, 2014
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In this article we will be going through Beginner, Advanced and Professional level of techniques and common errors drivers make. Some of these mistakes are not always obvious until someone tells you that you can gain time by not doing them or by understanding different techniques you can use.  The reason we’ve split these up into different categories is so you work your way up to more advanced techniques that you can use to gain time. Also it is easier to work on 1 thing at a time instead of trying to make major changes to your driving technique.

Beginners

  1. Releasing the steering wheel
  2. Use more of the racing surface
  3. Apply throttle sooner


#1 Releasing the steering wheel

A lot of drivers new to sim-racing have difficulty in releasing the steering wheel when exiting a corner. You don’t always get the feel that you need, so to know how much to release the steering can sometimes be difficult in the beginning.. In some cases drivers either hold the steering position too long, or if they get an understeer condition they turn it even more. It’s important to know that this will only cause more understeer and wear out your tires faster. As soon as throttle is applied you should use less wheel input. The more throttle input you use, the less wheel input you should use. This will help keep the car more neutral overall, and will also prevent you from getting snap over-steer conditions on the exit of corners.

#2 Use more of the racing surface

It is quite common that drivers starting out may get frustrated because they see how far off the pace they are compared to others. Often I’ve seen these drivers leaving as much as a car width of room on the entry to the corner. You really need to use every inch of the track you can. This is so you make your line into the corner as easy as possible. This allows you to take the corner at a much faster speed, but it also makes the car much easier to drive. This includes using every inch the simulation allows you to use. If there is a curb on the entry to the corner, put your tires on it, as long as it’s not a curb that will slow your car down or upset the braking process. In some cases you can position your car on a slight angle so you do the major braking on the pavement and slowly make your way to the entry curb.

The same applies for the exit of the turn. This sometimes goes back to #1 where the driver keeps the wheel turned too long and exits in the middle of the road. You want to be going fast enough and releasing the wheel fast enough that the car slowly makes its way to the edge of the road on the exit. You shouldn’t be fighting with the car here. It should flow in a smooth and natural way.

#3 Apply Throttle Sooner

I see this quite often where the driver either continues to brake for far too long. Or they coast way past the apex of the corner. As soon as you turn into the corner and you have no more slowing down to do. You should be on the throttle a tiny bit right away. The reason for this is, that it helps balance the car on the entry of the corner. It helps transfer the weight from the front wheels to the rear wheels faster than you would if you let it settle on its own.  The amount of throttle to apply depends on the car and the corner. So it will take practice. But a general good rule is to not go over 10% for slower corners and not over 40% for faster corners.  This may vary quite a lot though as some simulations you can get away with a lot more than that. It will also depend on the car. But practicing the idea of applying throttle sooner will get you in a mind set to push it as far as you can.

Advanced

  1. Brake harder. This isn’t a street car
  2. Don’t move the steering wheel around so much
  3. Use less wheel input

#1 Brake harder

It is quite common to see a more advanced driver, driving a sim-racing car like it’s a road car. Typically in a road car you are driving more casual. So you apply brakes in a very smooth on and off motion. This is not ideal for racing. There is some rare cases where certain types of corners require this technique. So don’t discard it completely. Keep it as part of your toolkit. However most corners in racing you need closer to a threshold braking technique.

What this means is you want to brake as hard as possible, as soon as possible. You want to put on the max amount of brakes you can without locking up the wheels. After you do this than you should use a rolling off technique to give the car an easy time shifting the weight back to the rear of the car. So hard braking when applying, soft releasing. How fast you release depends on the corner, and in some cases the setup as well. The car should feel  like you can position it anywhere you want it to go.

#2 Don’t move the steering wheel around so much.

Basically every time you move the steering wheel. You are giving up speed. Often I see drivers saw the wheel on the straights. It’s a weird habit. Either they have a lot of force feedback so the bumps in the track are moving the wheel too much for them, and they are correcting for those movements. If that is the case. I suggest you reduce your force feedback. Otherwise pay attention to how much wheel movements you are making in a given lap, and try to reduce them.

#3 Use less wheel input

If you follow #1 you should be braking harder and rolling off smoothly. You may find right away you’re using less wheel input. If you also follow the beginners section of #1 and #3. You should be applying throttle as soon as you are done braking. So if the brakes are off. The throttle should be on. The throttle is on. You should be using less wheel input. But in general if you follow these techniques the overall amount of wheel input you use in a corner should be reduced. You should never need more than 90 degrees left or right.  Even with a 900 Degree wheel.

Professionals

  1. Mastering the art of power over-steer
  2. Brake Earlier, Roll a little more
  3. Throwing away corners

#1 Mastering the art of power over-steer

If you can learn to the control the rotation of your car with throttle. You can recover from almost any dangerous situation, but you can also use it to your advantage in cars and corners that tend to have a lot of understeer. By using the throttle to turn the car. You keep your speed up to a reasonable level, and you also use less wheel input.  There is always going to be some corners that you cannot setup your car perfectly for because it has a negative effect on other corners. So having the ability to rotate your car with throttle is a useful technique to have in your toolkit.

#2 Brake Earlier, roll a little more

This means brake a foot or two earlier. Let the car roll a bit without any brakes or throttle before turning the steering. It may only be for a few feet, but this technique can really help neutralize the car, allow you to point it where you want a little easier, and give you a straighter exit line. Typically this technique is most useful in open wheel cars because you usually want to get all your braking done in a straight line. You can still use your brakes to balance the car on the entry, but it’s important to not over do this.

#3 Throwing away corners

In racing there is corners that are throw away corners. That means you want to go slower in one corner in order to gain speed in the following corner. Typically you want the best corner to be the one that leads onto a straight. Even 1 MPH at the end of the straight will gain you way more time than by attacking a set of corners.

Let’s use an example. Pretty much every single chicane in racing has one throw away corner. It’s usually the first one. Let’s use Road Atlanta as an example. The final chicane that leads onto the main straight. I see it very often drivers brake very late into this corner and attack the first corner. No matter what you do you will lose time. There is no way to attack the first of the two corners without losing time in the second and speed down the front straight. It’s impossible. Even if your 9 mph faster in the first turn and only 5 mph slower than what’s possible in the second. You will lose 1 or 2 mph on the straight. Now you might say that I net 2mph. Because 9 – 5 – 2 = 2. But this is not the case. 2MPH at say 70mph is less track than 2 mph at 170mph. It’s in fact more than 2 times as much. So by giving up a couple mph in the first turn you gain a few mph in the second turn. You can gain several tenths of a second per lap!

That wraps up some core techniques. We hope they help make you faster.

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Comments

Raul Daniel On 2015-02-19 04:16:58
Raul Daniel

Good tips smile

Reply

Sean Seebran On 2014-06-27 11:52:22
Sean Seebran

Great information there Shawn, thanks so much for sharing, there's something for everyone no matter their skill level.

Reply

Samuel Korthof On 2014-05-14 17:12:46
Samuel Korthof

Good tips for those who want to learn about some basics. I just want to add that every driver has got his own style. Sure there are dome basic rules to get around the track but racing is also a very personal thing. Some things you mention are more a personal view on racing. It won't suit everbody. My tip to those who want to race better is to find out wich style you prefer. Dont try adapting to somebody else his/her style. I wont make you quicker.

Reply

Brian Warfel On 2014-05-13 15:40:57
Brian Warfel

Great tips! Any chance a video can be made to show  them?

Reply

Marshall Williams On 2014-05-11 05:59:31
Marshall Williams

Very helpful thanks!

Reply

Paul Thompson On 2014-05-10 21:57:52
Paul Thompson

Some very good tips smile

I've been sim racing for a very long time (since Grand Prix 2), but lately have found myself tightening up, so these tips will help me I'm sure.

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