Throttle control is one of the first things you might learn when getting into racing or sim racing. However, are you making some key mistakes that could lose you time? In this video, we look at what might be scrubbing speed from your laps and how you can avoid them!
As always, you can find the video's full script below in case you would like to read about certain details.
Do you make this throttle mistake? (full script)
You might think there's not much to applying the throttle in the right way - just get on the power as soon as you can, done - and accelerate onto the following straight. Well, that's completely wrong. There's actually a lot of attention to detail required to nail applying the throttle on a racetrack, both on real driving and in sim racing.
One of the most common mistakes that we see drivers make on track is not being patient enough and actually getting on the throttle too early rather than waiting a bit. In this video, we're going to talk about why that negatively impacts your lap times and how you can do it better going forward.
So let's take a look at one good and one bad example in action. So we're coming around Brooklands - Turn 6 at Silverstone and pay close attention to the following right-hander - Luffield. Two examples and one we go into the corner we apply the throttle quite early then we have to come off whereas in the other one we're actually getting on the throttle in one continuous fashion and straight to a flat out position.
So let's look at that in slow motion. So we have the two videos here side by side, the right one is the good example, the left one is the bad example. So you can see the cars go into Luffield, into this corner in quite a similar way and then mid-corner something happens.
In the bad example, we actually start getting on the power slightly then up to about 75 percent - three-quarters of the throttle's maximum capacity. Whereas, we're still completely off the throttle at that point on track in the good example. What happens if we then continue?
At some point, the car in the good example starts rotating that tiny bit more and you can see once we do come on the throttle we do it rapidly and we go straight to a flat out position. Whereas in the bad example let's look at that video again, we actually struggle to keep the power down, we have to come off as we go around the corner, which is terrible and as a result of that we're flat out much, much later in this bad example compared to the good one.
So we could see from the two onboard videos and from the data that very clearly being a bit more patient but then coming on the throttle quicker and in a continuous fashion actually lets a better performance on track. Let's look at why that is and as always, it's down to vehicle dynamics.
We can see from the data that the majority of the time lost isn't actually in the corner but on the exit and on the following straight. So the question is why? - Because in the good example we are simply at full throttle much earlier. At full throttle we have:
a) more power and
b) if we're able to get the power down earlier we keep gaining throughout the next straight as we're constantly that little bit faster than the bad example.
Let's take a more in-depth look at the data here. So we have our throttle traces for both examples - the red one being the not so good one, the green one the much better and as a result of that, faster example. So we can see as the throttle pressure goes from 0 to 100 percent in the green example - the good one, we can see we actually get on the power initially a bit later but in one continuous fashion all the way to the top to full throttle.
Whereas on the right one you can see we're kind of trying to get on the power mid-corner but then can't quite do it, we start understanding it a little bit, actually have to come back off, you can see the throttle trace going down again before we actually go flat out at the very end of the corner phase.
So how big is the impact of this? It doesn't seem like a lot in terms of just looking at the throttle trace but let's look at the speed that the car has as you go into and out of the corner.
So you can see again, the red one being the bad example, the green one the speed trace for the good example and you can see that in the good example we actually have a slightly lower minimum speed because we're more patient we wait till we apply the throttle but by waiting and then applying the throttle in one go you can see we have a much higher exit speed and you keep gaining that speed throughout the straight after so our time delta gets bigger and bigger as we accelerate down the following straight.
Now we understand that getting on the throttle later but flat out means we're flat out earlier and as a result of that we just accelerate faster out of the corner and down the following straight. Pretty obvious right? So far so good. The question is, why is getting on the power earlier just before that flat out point actually affecting your performance negatively?
Getting on the throttle doesn't just accelerate the car, it also changes its balance and that's the key thing to keep in mind here to understand why getting on the power too early is so bad in terms of lap time. The moment you apply even a little bit of throttle you shift the weight of the car to the back. That means you have less grip available on the front axle meaning you're prone to understeering the moment you get on the power.
And that is exactly why you should be patient with the throttle. If you apply say 50 percent throttle mid-corner your car's nose suddenly lifts up from the ground and if you're already at the tire's grip limit you will not be able to keep the same turning radius as you come on the throttle. That as a result means you start running wide and even if that is only by a small margin it means that your exit is less straight which forces you to wait... and wait... and wait - and it's so painful if you've been there you know what I'm talking about. You have to wait till you can actually put your foot down and that's exactly why you compromise your exit by getting on the power too early.
So to wrap up, getting on the throttle just that tiny bit too early can cost you extreme amounts of lap time not just because you're losing in the corner by causing the car to understeer but especially because you have to wait... and wait... and wait to actually put your foot down on the exit of a corner that causes you to lose time down the straight all the way to the next corner. So next time you're on track, both in real life or in sim racing, remember - be patient mid-corner to then go flat out in one continuous fashion on the exit.