Amateur drivers usually focus on braking later and later, but there's actually something that happens throughout the corner that might be losing you more time than ever.
As always, you can find the video's full script below in case you would like to read about certain details.
This is why you are losing time (full script)
When comparing your driving against professionals you might just look at the mistakes you've made such as braking too early or too late, you might have a bit of oversteering or understeering but let's not forget there's actually something which is about using grip in all corner phases which might cost you way more time than just oversteering in one sudden moment.
In this video, we're going to look at different phases of the corner and what using grip to the max means in each of them as well as compare a pro to an amateur to see exactly what that looks like in action.
First, we need to understand the corner's different phases. Now we can get very technical here and divide a corner into even more subphases but to keep things simple for the sake of this video, we're going to split up a corner into three main phases.
First, there's the entry - or the braking phase. Secondly, we're talking about the mid-corner phase where we focus mostly on hitting the apex - the tightest point of a corner. And third and last, the exit, where we accelerate out of the corner.
Now most drivers spend a lot of time focusing on braking later and later to improve their entry phase but what we see often is that transition from the entry to later corner phases is actually where drivers begin to lose much more time.
Let's look at an example of how using grip in all three corner phases looks when done right. So we're coming around Turn 8 here at Silverstone approaching Copse Corner - Turn 9. And watch what happens, we get on the brakes initially but we brake deep into the corner, wait, and as soon as the car grips we get back on the power immediately, using all the space on the exit to maximize the grip available to us.
So now that we understand the fundamentals of using grip and the different corner phases, let's look at different comparisons in these corner phases to see exactly what a good and a bad example can look like. To illustrate how much of a difference even using a bit less grip can make we will compare a pro and an amateur sim racers data with the exact same car on the same track.
The slower driver loses more than a second through this single corner around Silverstone here so that is light-years and racing. So the question is: where do they start losing that time? And as you can see from the graph, this is the time delta between the two drivers. They always start at zero as they enter the segment of the track. You can see the delta only increases really slightly in the braking phase, almost no time lost but where things really start going wrong is the mid-corner phase.
So let's analyse each corner section one by one to really see what's going on and why not using all the available grip leads to one second time delta. So let's look at the speed difference between the two drivers in different corner sections. So you can see that actually, the speed trace shows us that the two drivers hit the brake pedals initially at almost the exact same point.
You can see both speed traces going downwards but then you can see something happening and that is the pro driver braking deeper into the corner rather than just hitting the brakes 100% and then coming off and as you can see because of that they're able to carry much more speed deep into the corner being on the limit of the front tires not just longitudinally in terms of braking but also laterally, thereby carrying more speed into the corner on entry.
Let's take a look at the mid-corner phase now. So we talked about braking and you can really see that difference now in the mid-corner phase the pro is exactly on a limit you can see carrying a lot more speed around the apex. Whereas, the amateur doesn't have any pedals applied and a much, much lower speed around the apex and you can really see the speed dropping off as a result of not being on the front tires limit there.
Let's look at the apex because of that very conservative apex taking, there's suddenly a lot of grip available on the exit which remains unused. And you can see that by comparing the two lines. The pro driver needs to run all the way onto the exit kerb, almost exceeding track limits because otherwise they simply wouldn't be able to keep their foot down at full throttle
The amateur driver, on the other hand, waited a bit longer to go flat out but by doing so they're leaving grip on the table. You can see they can stay within the tracks limit easily and not use all the grip available which clearly shows you that there is more time to be gained here.
The question is: why did they lose so much time in the mid-corner phase, especially on the transition between braking and turning? Let's look at our favourite physics visualization to explain racing principles, the friction circle. The amateur driver brakes in a straight line then comes off the brakes and only then turns in. That means we have a phase in-between braking and turning where we are not using all the available grip.
The pro, on the other hand, starts turning in as they gently come off the brakes, meaning they're trailing along the friction circle's edge at all times in the braking and turn-in phase and in driving terms that simply means you are on the limit.
The exact same thing happens on the exit, just the other way around. The amateur waits until they face an almost straight line exit and only then get back on the power. The pro, on the other hand, gets on the power exactly when the slightly reduced turning input allows for it, thereby always using all the available grip.
So you can see that leaving a bit of grip, a bit of potential on the table in different phases of the corner really does add up over time. It's not just about braking as late as possible, once you actually finish your braking phase and you trailbrake into the corner there's still a lot of stuff happening between that point and by the time you get back on the power on the exit.
That being said though actually approaching the limit from the bottom rather than spinning the whole time and kind of adjusting downwards is much better. So if you have that problem, that's a good problem to have just keep in mind next time you're out on track, start pushing the limits not just in the entry and on the exit but also in every single phase in-between.