Updated: Aug 23
Taking kerbs can often be the key to faster laptimes, but they're also fraught with risk especially for newer drivers. In this video, we will dive into how you can decide which kerbs to take, and when!
As always, you can find the video's full script below in case you would like to read about certain details.
Taking Kerbs - Beginner Guide (full script)
Kerbs, they're the big concrete slabs on the side of the racetrack. But here's a question for you. Why are they even there? Well, back in the early days of car racing tracks would just go straight from the track to the grass at the side of the circuit. So driving around a few hundred miles per hour, the drivers needed some kerbs to know where the edge of the circuit is by feeling and hearing the car go over the big bumps.
But nowadays, kerbs are taking on more roles and just that. And so when you see modern drivers at attacking kerbs, it's not only to feel the edge of the track, it's actually to take the best possible racing line. And this is because ultimately, using more space throughout the corner means that you can straighten up the car as much as possible, which means the car is going to go faster.
And using the kerbs is going to allow the drivers to get the widest line possible through a corner. But it's not all that simple. There are some different types of kerbs and lots of different things to consider when you're thinking about taking a kerb. So we're going to take a look at the five key factors on why you should or shouldn't take kerbs when racing.
The first factor to consider when deciding whether to take a kerb or not is what corner phase the kerb is actually in. When the kerbs are in the corner entry - usually you want to stay off the kerb during the main braking phase and this is because the kerbs reduce grip and therefore your braking performance so you're going to run wide.
However, this is different in medium to high-speed corners, where it can help to move on to the outside kerb before turning into widen the corner radius. And this works because the main deceleration part is already completed.
When a kerb is right on the apex of a corner, it seems intuitive to take a lot of kerb because you want the tightest possible line. However, this can unsettle the car slightly and might cause you to struggle with traction as you get on the power.
On the other hand, if you are struggling with mid-corner understeer using the apex kerb is actually a perfect way to help rotate the car. And this is because the inside of the car suddenly has less grip than the outside, which means it's easier to rotate the car around its centre axis. So generally as long as it doesn't negatively affect traction, attach onto the inside kerbs to get the tighter line.
Now the exit is where you really want to maximise space as it enables you to exit the corner at a higher speed. And furthermore, you're able to carry that speed advantage all the way to the next corner. So the general rule of thumb with the exit kerbs is that if the type of kerb actually allows it, use as much kerb as you're allowed to.
The limiting factor is often going to be track limits rather than the kerb itself, especially at modern tracks. But there is an exception here. And that's regarding slow corners with high powered rear-wheel-drive cars.
Because the kerbs generally have less grip, it might actually be faster to go for a tighter line that yields more traction coming out of the corner. It does come at the expense of lower mid-corner speed due to a tighter line, but you will be able to make up that speed down the following straight as you're able to exit the corner much faster.
The second consideration to make is what the characteristics of the kerb are. Kerbs come in all shapes and sizes and so that adds to the complexity of taking them. The general rule of thumb, however, is that the higher the kerb is, the riskier it is to use it. So a big monster kerb like you see at Hungaroring definitely carry a much higher risk than the nice smooth and flat kerbs you see in Paul Ricard.
A special exception here is sausage kerbs. depending on the car some sausage kerbs can be gobbled up, but usually, they're placed in areas to dissuade drivers from taking too much kerb where they would have done otherwise.
The third consideration to take is the type of car that you're driving. Naturally, an F1 car is going to sit much lower than a GT car. And that means that GT cars can take much larger kerbs because they're able to simply bounce over them, where an F1 car would easily bottom out, especially on particularly large kerbs.
In addition to this, the aerodynamic components on high downforce cars are typically fine-tuned to work when travelling perfectly straight. So when you move over a kerb, you could unsettle the carefully crafted aerodynamic balance of the car, which is going to lose you downforce and lose you time.
The fourth important factor to consider when taking kerbs is the weather that you're racing in. And this is very simple. It's because kerbs are very slippery. The painted nature means that the surface is a lot less sticky than the tracks asphalt and particularly on the exit of the corner, touching the kerbs will strip the little traction that's left in this weather and it can drag you right out wide.
And last but not least, the way that you should take kerbs depends significantly on the game that you're driving in. Certain kerbs that you might take flat out in the F1 game will definitely cause you serious issues in other simulators. And this is where practice really pays off, so that you can work out what kerbs should be taken, what way, in which game.
So to conclude this video on kerbs, here, the answer on which goes to take and which to avoid is - it depends. When driving you're going to have to take into account the five points that we've gone over here to decide whether not to take each kerb. And if you do, take the kerb and you maybe shouldn't have done, think back to this video and consider the five points here to know how you can avoid that issue in the future.