The racing line - probably the most fundamental single thing you can learn when you're first getting into simracing. But what is the racing line? and how do we begin to understand it? In this video, we will take a look at the basics of the racing line to help you get faster lap times!
As always, you can find the video's full script below in case you would like to read about certain details.
Racing Lines - Beginner Guide (full script)
The racing line. If you've even heard about racing, no doubt you will have heard of the racing line. But what actually is it and why does it matter? Put simply, the racing line is the fastest way to get around the corner. However, not all corners are the same and so we adjust the racing line depending on each corner type.
By watching this video, you're going to learn the fundamentals of the racing line, which is the first key thing to understand to get faster lap times. To understand racing lines, we first need to understand grip.
In racing or simracing, the ultimate goal is to be as fast as possible at all times. If you were to be going straight forever, you'd simply be at full throttle the whole time. Simple as that. Even a little bit of turning, like on a motorway would be fine, and you could still go flat out.
However, there will be a point at which turning in will require you to slow down to actually make it around the corner. Getting to exactly that point is what being on the grip limit means.
To put it simply, we can say that the more you want to turn the wheel, the more you have to slow down. And this is what racing lines are really about, minimising your steering input as much as possible throughout the corner so that we don't have to slow down quite so much.
The way we keep the speed up throughout is by taking the racing line. And that means going around the corner with the widest radius possible. Let's travel to Hockenheim hairpin to take a look at this one in action.
Lots of beginner sim racers aim for the inside of the corner early, then coast around the inside and power of the corner. Obviously, the thinking here is that the shortest distance around the corner must be the fastest. And whilst it's correct that you're reducing the distance driven, you have to remember what we said about reducing steering input to keep the speed up.
If we compare that to the correct racing line, we can see that we're staying on the outside for a long time, we then turn in towards the tightest point of the corner. And we use all the space on the exit to open up our steering.
As a result of a much lower steering angle, we can carry much more speed into, through and out of the corner, gaining us a significant time advantage over the other driver.
Now let's break down the anatomy of a corner to understand this in more detail. Generally speaking, we can break every corner down into three parts entry, apex and exit.
In the entry phase of the corner, you want to gradually start turning in after slowing the car down during the braking phase. As you approach your maximum steering angle, you want to get as close as possible to what we call the apex. And that's the tightest part of the corner where your car reaches as close as possible to the inside.
Then once you hit the apex your goal is to maximise your exit speed. And you can achieve this by gradually opening up the steering as you apply the throttle. This general principle can be applied to different types of corners, from slower hairpins to fast sweeping bends.
So what we have here is called the geometric racing line. And as you can see, it looks perfectly symmetrical. The entry approach is at a curve just the same as the exit. However, when racing you actually want to slightly adjust your lines in order to focus on a straightened exit.
You see, by turning in slightly later and reaching the apex later around the corner, you get a straighter exit. And this is beneficial because it allows you to accelerate much earlier, which will, in turn, give you a speed advantage throughout the following section on track since you've got the extra half-second, or so, of acceleration over the other driver.
And so there you have it. That's the fundamentals of the racing line. There are lots of intricacies and adaptations that you can learn depending on a lot of different factors. However, that will be in other learning.
Factors such as the car type, corner combinations, tyre conditions, and driving style all impact the exact nature of what we might call the perfect line. However, the fundamentals remain the same. You have to take the line with the widest radius possible as this is going to allow you to carry the most speed throughout the corner.