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Post by S2M Cappie on Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:59 pm

I have decided to make a thread on driving principles. As of late I keep seeing loads of stewards inquiries over stupid errors. I am aware that nobody is perfect, but I hope in these few chapters you will gain more of an insight on how to drive quickly and safely.
I do hope you enjoy reading these chapters as I do typing them up. This will be a weekly/monthly article depending on time etc.
So no further ado, again I hope you find it of interest.

Principles of race driving; S2M Cappie

A good driving position is essential in order to be able to express yourself and take advantage of the potential of a Racing Car. It’s true that the cockpit space within a single-seater is a compromise that the driver has to accept, but if he has the opportunity he must have it custom made. This will enable him, at least in theory, to start with an advantage over his opponents.

A driver who is uncomfortable, who might have to drive with his legs held at an angle or too tucked in, will soon feel the heat and exhaustion and suffer, but because he has not prepared himself physically, but rather because has overtired his limbs by making them work in unnatural positions.
Designers always have their good reasons for making cockpits ever smaller: better aerodynamic efficiency, better torsional rigidity, these are important goals. If you are a young driver, it will be harder to make your thoughts heard. But the quest for the optimum driving position, there are rules that are disregarded by aspiring drivers.
The first of these is that none of the movements involving arms and legs should end with the limbs being fully stretched. These limbs should be naturally extended, neither fully stretched nor tucked in too much: this will enable them to apply their maximum strength. For example, when the left leg is on the clutch, at the end of the pedal’s travel – which in case very short – it should not be fully extended; just as the right leg must not be hindered at knee height when the foot shifts from throttle to brake, or when executing a heel-and-toe manoeuvre.
The same goes for the arms, which must be allowed to exploit their potential fully. This is because, through a race steering wheel cannot be compared to a road car, nevertheless in a race one often reaches the 300 kilometres per hour mark.
DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8195916577_5fd7164124
The position of the hands on the steering wheel is one of the first rudiments that a race driver must learn at the beginning of his career. There are rules which indicate the correct position, but every driver will discover for himself the arrangement that allows him to exert the correct pressure on the steering wheel in the most efficient way. A fundamental principle of driving is that the outside hand (shown in red) is the one which applies the most pressure when entering a bend, while the inside merely follows the movement. On exiting the bend it is the inside hand which guides the movement and straighten the steering wheel. The illustration above shows diagramatically the sequence for a right –handed bend while the one below is for a left-handed bend.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197008930_91714dc682

Thus the arms, in the “quarter past nine” position, the one used for the straights, must not be fully extended, but rather slightly bent. The distance between the torso and the steering wheel must be such that the elbow will touch the seat only when the arm has applied full lock in the execution of a turning manoeuvre. If the elbow is not able to reach such a position, or if it gets slightly stuck, it means the distance between the torso and steering wheel is less than ideal: in other words one is still to near the steering wheel.
In order to achieve the best driving position, it is essential to have a seat made which then becomes the ideal link between the driver and the cockpit. The quest for the best driving position and the best seat is one to which you must devote a lot of time. It is very tiring to lower yourself into the cockpit time after time (F1 Cockpit) for hours on end, but it is essential. With today’s technology it is possible to mould a seat to the driver’s body which, together with the footrest and the six-point harness, will enable the driver and car to be one entity; it will also allow the driver to feel the slightest irregularity of the track and every single reaction of the car.
Only in this way will the driver have a direct and honest relationship with the car, and be able to extend his instinct and feeling to the four tyres touching the ground.
The footrest is an essential accessory for a racing car. It must be at the same level as the clutch pedal, to enable the foot to shift with only one movement to the right, onto the clutch, thus saving time involved in bringing the foot from a lower level to that of the pedal. Once the foot has pressed and depressed the clutch, it must always return to the footrest – or, in these days of semi-automatic gearboxes, should always stay there.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197030618_321e0e641b
This the correct hand position on the steering wheel on a Formula 1 car. The arms are not fully extended, but slightly bent. The grip is relaxed, the thumbs rest on the upper spokes, thus increasing the grip on the wheel. In this way the driver can retain perfect control of the car. This position is commonly known as "quarter past nine".

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8195937909_3f15eb6d81
The hand position during a gearchange. the left hand, which has to keep the car in a straight line, stays on the steering wheel. The right hand changes gears. The picture shows clearly how the right arm, though extended, is not rigidly at full stretch. The arms are slightly bent, allowing the driver to absorb the strain of driving more easily and to perform following movements.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8195938253_cf6c76da43
Ayrton Senna demonstrates the movements a driver has to make for a tight left-hand bend. the outside hand exerts pressure on the steering wheel, while the left hand follows through. The lock, always direct on a Formula 1 car, allows the driver to indulge in a "forbidden" technique, at least in everyday driving: crossing the arms.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8195937831_caedfc6337
And here is the famous "crossed arms" technique: the right arm (this is a left-hand bend) crosses over the left one. It's quite clear that this is a marginal position, which does not allow any more movement in steering the car through the bend, but it must be pointed out that the extremely direct lock of a Formula 1 car allows a tight bend, even a hairpin, to be taken using this movement.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197030806_e11292ceca
Here we picture the same movement, but in the opposite direction, entering a right-hand bend. Both hands grip the steering wheel, the thumbs are resting on the spokes. The movement is started without moving the hands from the rim. Here again it is the outside arm which leads the steering wheel, while the other simply follows through.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197030712_3a84eaa74f
The “crossed arms” technique has just been used in a right-hand bend: the left hand grips the wheel, while the right, as seen in the photo, is open and does not hinder the movement. The thumbs are still resting on the spokes. This way the movement is relaxed and the bottom hand, as soon as the upper one moves back, is ready to push as well and bring the steering wheel back to its original position.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197030356_9b076eaaf4
This is how the pedals are arranged in the tight space of a F1 cockpit: the throttle, clutch, brake and footrest. In this confined area the feet must move with great speed. Here we are on a straight, with the right foot, the one on the left in the photo, pushing the throttle. The other stays firmly on the foot rest.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8195937665_ed7c18dee8
Here we start to brake: the foot presses firmly on the brake pedal, having left the throttle – the movement is shown by the white arrow. The other foot is still on the footrest and has not yet moved onto the clutch. We are still at the initial phase, before the gear change, which come before entering the corner and will start in a fraction of a second.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197030200_83cd35caf9
We are still braking. The right foot presses the brake pedal, but at the same time has rotated towards the outside, and with the side of the sole, presses the throttle; meanwhile the left foot has moved to the clutch to change into a lower gear. This manoeuvre is known as “heel and toe”, even though as we’ve seen it should be called “sole/sole”.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8197030134_b195daa11e
The gear is in, the left foot (on the right-hand side of the picture) goes back to the footrest, while the right foot leaves the brake pedal to return to the throttle. This picture may give the impression of a very slow movement, but in fact this is done, many times and in quick succession, in thousandths of a second, especially on twisty circuits like Monaco.

The footrest has another function: to make the driver more comfortable inside the cockpit, especially when taking a fast bend. Not every race car has one, mainly for space reasons, and this without doubt a fault.
The last topic in this chapter is the position of the hands on the steering wheel. To this end, an old rule still applies: when on a straight, the hands should be held in the “quarter past nine” position; in other words you should imagine the steering wheel as a clock and look for 9.15, which on the steering wheel in a racing car corresponds to the two highest spokes.

On F1 or racing cars for that matter, the steering is always  direct, so that the hands are only very rarely moved from that position, usually just to change gear. And of course with semi-automatic gearboxes they are not moved at all. In the case of a hairpin bend at Lowes in Monte Carlo, the old rule of never crossing the arms would require a hand to be moved, to let it slide and then immediately grip again, as the other hand loosens the grip and slide back to the 9.15 position, the one which allows the best degree of control. But this would be a great waste of time, and it is necessary only on road going cars, which have a less direct lock. A swift cross-over is a better technique, and with practice it loses all its perceived danger.

In tackling a bend, say a right-hand one, pressure is applied on the steering wheel with the left hand, while the right just follows through: on the exit of the bend, it will be the right hand which will be putting pressure to straighten the steering wheel. So as a general rule we may say that it is the outside hand that leads the car into the bend. While the inside one leads it out.
Leaving aside the rule for a moment, it is necessary to highlight the importance of the speed of execution. Thus instead of an orthodox hand position which slows down movements, it is preferable to adopt another position, one which will make the driver more comfortable. Only in this way will he attain the necessary speed and maintain whatever natural ability to improvise he may posses.

More next week

Last edited by S2M Cappie on Thu Jun 13, 2013 2:00 am; edited 4 times in total (Reason for editing : Missing content *facepalm*)


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Post by HCR Karma on Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:49 pm

Am inpressed Smile

Nice guide Cappie and loads of good content there,,thanks for posting this

G Very Happy


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Post by S2M Cappie on Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:55 pm

Gregbie wrote:Am inpressed Smile

Nice guide Cappie and loads of good content there,,thanks for posting this

G Very Happy

More next week Chapter 2 Cornering: The racing line.


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"The tires are called wets, because they're used in the wet. And these tires are called slicks, because they're very slick." - Murray Walker
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Post by S2M Cappie on Sun Nov 25, 2012 3:30 pm

Chapter 2

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217296766_5d9221c8c7

The racing tracks on which racing cars do battle are by definition a series of bends interrupted by straights of varying length.
Given that the idea is to lap in the least amount of time, the way you take corners becomes fundamental, not least because the first thing to understand is that an error on a bend is always paid for in lost hundredths of a second.
The “Racing Line” is the imaginary line which marks the path of the car. The straighter it is, in other words the wider the radius, the more the difference between the speed of the car before the bend and after the bend will be reduced. Thus it is essential to find the ideal racing line, or trajectory, for each bend. There is only one and it allows us to round off the angle of a corner. As an example, let’s look at a 90-degree bend. Instead of taking it by following its direction exactly, it is possible to cut it and take a wider radius: in this way we will exit at a higher speed. By doing this we have also encountered another fundamental principle of circuit driving: you have to use the full breadth of the track. And beyond too, as in the case of hairpins and especially chicanes. To cut a bend means looking for a racing line which corresponds to a corner with a wider radius than the one the one driving through. The car will then find new points of reference.
There are three fundamental points in a bend: the turning-in point, or start of the corner, which can be described as the end of the straight; the apex, where the car brushes past the kerb on the inside of the corner, the slowest part of the bend; and the exit, or end of the corner, when the car begins to travel in a straight line again, or when the bend can be said to have finished and another started. In this case, the exit (the fastest part of the corner) and the entry point of the next obviously overlap.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217296828_73eb7a8124
This picture shows the car at the apex of the corner; a few inches later the inside front wheel, lighter than the outside load-bearing one, will climb slightly over the kerb. This line has been chosen to straighten the bend as much as possible and thus allow it to be taken fast as possible. Sometimes, because of the traffic on the track, it is hard to take the ideal racing line.
To sum up, we could say that the bend is always taken by going first to the outside, then to the inside, then to the outside again, using as much of the track as possible and maybe even climbing up on the kerb. It’s true that in modern Grand Prix racing the kerbs are best avoided. We have reached the point where the flat-bottomed cars are almost caressing the road surface in the search for ever-more ground effect. The sparks which they leave in their wake are seen more clearly and more frequently than a few years ago. Today we maintain contact with the ground not only with the tyres but also with the bottom of the car, and riding up on the car lead to the possibility of mechanical damage, which is rarely worth risking.
The ideal line in a 90-degree corner is in theory the curve with the maximum constant radius, which links the three main points of the bend the same curving radius.
Within this racing line we have to get used to identifying the three phases already mentioned which correspond to the three main points. This is very important distinction, which enables us to embark on a deeper analysis of the car and the way we drive. This is how we will identify any defects and subsequently put them right.
The maximum constant radius around a bend is not always the most effective solution. It is certainly useful when approaching a big fast bend, when there isn’t much acceleration at the exit. But when the bend is slow or medium-fast, and especially if it is followed by a long straight, the line must be changed to allow you to accelerate earlier. In this case the apex will not correspond to the geometric apex (which divides the inside of the bend into two equal parts in accordance with the line which bisects the angle of the bend), but will be somewhat before it.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216211619_13c36bf908
In this picture the rear wheel is at the apex of the bend, while the front wheel has just passed it. This is when acceleration begins. This was taken at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps, a fast and difficult circuit which features slow bends, like this one called La Source.
Thus the cornering phase is bought forward by comparison with the maximum constant radius line and you can accelerate earlier.

Braking will have to be later, the entry phase will have a smaller radius and the exit phase – accelerating throughout – will have a variable radius line and will be longer than the equivalent phase in the case of the maximum constant radius line. This type of racing line is easier to understand if applied to a hairpin. Which is where the most advantage is to be found: the time lost in the first and second phase is much less than the advantage given by accelerating earlier (giving rise to the old cliché “to exit fast you have to enter slow”). The real apex varies in relation to the geometric apex depending on the tightness of the bend. At a hairpin it will be brought forward by about 10% of the length of the inside
kerb; at a longer bend by up to 20 or 25 %.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217515524_95629c9ddc_z
One of the classic hairpin bends in the world of F1. This is Monte Carlo in front of Loews Hotel. 1) Ayrton Senna sets up the bend after the straight; 2) he aims for the apex by tightening his line the kerb, which he reaches in 3). In the next phase, the driver begins to accelerate exiting the curve, 4).

In the case of series of bends not interrupted by straights ( the most obvious example is a chicane, but it could also be two bends close to each other or dependant on one another) the rules described so far are perfectly valid, but we need to introduce a new principle: the last bend always takes priority. In these cases you have to sacrifice the first bend in favour of the second (or of the last if there are more than two) because, as we already seen, gain or loss are linked to the exit from the bend (or bends) and to the length of the following straight. For example, in case of a chicane followed by a long straight (such as the first chicane at Monza) it will be necessary to sacrifice the exit of the first section in order to be in a better position for the entry of the second and the last part of the bend. In this way we will lose something at the start (where it is almost impossible to overtake anyway) so as to exit the second half with greater speed. And in the end, this is what matters.
In the reverse situation, when we have a long straight preceding two or bends, we cannot sacrifice the first bend in order to favour those that follow because, due to the high speeds involved, the loss of time would be too great. Thus you have to brake as late as possible and take the maximum constant radius line in the first bend, knowing that the loss of time you will incur at the end of the straight following the bends (which we assume to be short) will be less than the advantage earned by taking the first bend as fast as possible.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217296894_530ae9477d
The difference in line between driving on the road and on the track is shown in this picture. The driver at the wheel racing car cuts the corner to achieve a higher travelling speed. The fainter line represents a normal line, which follows the radius o fthe bend, while the thicker line is the maximum constant radius, which allows for the maximum exit speed.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217297174_1a24596f3a
A race driver must quickly get used to dividing a bend into three parts: the entry, the middle phase, and the exit. In the picture above we have two examples of corners: on the left, the normal constant radius bend; on the right the one advances the middle phase. The latter permits the driver to bring forward the point of acceleration because the exiting phase is much straighter. Thus the car will already be faster when it reaches the straight.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217297638_d2c86c7eb2
In these two illustrations you see the maximum constant radius line (left) and the line which advances the middle phase. The second is very useful, particularly for certain types of bend, such as medium-fast and slow corners and especially hairpins. For bends which do not require much acceleration at the exit, like wide sweeping bends which are taken flat out, the maximum constant radius line proves to be the most effective. When you bring forward the middle phase, you lose time because your line has a tighter radius, but in reality this loss is more than offset by your higher exit speed.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216211761_b52b429650
Years ago, when many of the tracks were sited at airfields and there were few permanent sites, it was common for drivers to come across bends like the one on the left, where the straight leading into the corner is narrower than the one after it. In this case the driver must take an early apex in order to exploit the full width of the track while exiting and thus gain speed. (Above right) This is the opposite case: the straight after the bend is narrower than the one before it. Here the driver must delay the entry to the corner so as not to run out of track at the exit. This situation will create lower exit speed than that illustrated on the left. It is possible to compare this bend to one which has a tendency to tighten on exit, which is not uncommon on modern circuits.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217297392_3b40110cc7
The illustration on the right shows a situation we find at modern Formula 1 tracks – for example the Parabolica at Monza, where the apex is taken early in comparison with the theoretical one, because the bend is linked to a straight which is much wider than the leading to it. A similar line can be employed where it is possible to run wide at the exit.
The left illustration show the line with the early middle phase is often applied to a 90-degree bend. However, this kind of racing line is even more apt for a corner of the sort shown on the left. If you approach a hairpin bend where you need to accelerate strongly at the exit, it is important to start to turn in as early as possible: it is obvious that a car that is already pointing in the right direction, which the wheels at less of an angle, will be able to accelerate earlier.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216212041_8fd9e5bb0d
Something that happens quite often on race circuits is to find two bends linked by a short straight. So as not to lose speed, the driver must take both bends as if they are one. He will turn the steering wheel only once and will only have one racing line. Sometimes, in order to find the most fluid and natural line, a driver may choose not to exploit the entire track on the short straight, but stay instead in the middle. The picture shows how the ideal racing line has to be set up.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216211969_12c5c1a08a
When two bends are linked by a short straight, it may not always be the best to adopt the racing line described previously. It may be more effective to take the first bend away from the apex and instead aim for the apex of the next one. Here too the distance from the kerbs is dictated by a perfect line and exit. This technique is also useful when confronted with wide bends which tend to narrow near the end: by going to the kerb late we can maintain the car’s speed and overcome the difficulties of a tightening bend.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216211837_e291dfc9ae
The accepted way to tackle a bend is for the car to brush the inside kerb once only and for the briefest of moments. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to stay on the inside, to follow the kerb for a great deal of length, because the layout of the bend will not allow you to find the apex and then widen your line towards the outside. To execute this technique correctly a driver must turn into the corner early and move to the outside only when the bend is almost complete.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217296426_4c4d36d586
This is a variable radius bend, where the corner opens progressively after the apex. This is good for the driver because the bend opens just as the driver’s own line does. In these cases you have to take an early apex and then concentrate on the natural line – which will have no reference points – in order to accelerate hard and progressively at the exit.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216211089_8fc2f0ed3c
Variable radius curves aren’t always an advantage for the driver, as is the illustration above. In this situation it is best to stay wide on entry and go to the apex relatively late. If there is a long straight before the bend, it will be possible to delay the point of entry and of braking in order to make the most of those last few meters when the car is travelling at its maximum speed. The advantage in terms of cornering speed will certainly be greater.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217297760_1564f0bc23
On modern Formula 1 circuits it is common to have a succession of bends not linked by any straights. The idea when tackling a chicane of this kind is to concentrate on the last bend and sacrifice the early ones. In the illustration, the car indicated by the continuous line is wide on entry and tight on exit in the first right-hand bend, in order to take the second bend as effectively as possible and accelerate early on exit, whereas the driver of the car following the dotted line is obliged to delay the movement when he can accelerate and regain speed.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217296670_d8429c8525
This diagram shows the application of the rules which have been explained so far. The racing line is planned to achieve the best possible exit from the second hairpin. This means taking a wide entry to the first bend in order to be in a better position to tackle the second. Although he has sacrificed the first bend and increased the time it take to drive through it, the driver is in a position to accelerate early and approach the following straight at a higher speed. As can be shown, the old rule of “slow in, fast out” is always valid.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8216212397_e3f0fb7585
This is a chicane where it is the exit which must take priority because it is a fast bend. The driver sacrifices the first right-hander by going to the kerb very late: in this way he will find himself in a position to attack the second left-hand bend at higher speed. The diagram shows this situation, which is not uncommon on modern circuits.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217297716_13e7052ae4
In this case, on the other hand, you must give priority to the first part of the chicane because it is the first corner which is the fast one, while the second is slower. The driver will hold a straight line until the second apex, keeping his speed up as much as possible. You should brake before the second bend, which will then be tackled with a less favourable line.

DRIVING PRINCIPLES 8217297872_2b9ff4579a
In this diagram above we can see a chicane after a long straight. In this case the driver must compromise the second half of the chicane so as to lift off and brake as late as possible and thus lengthen the straight. In so doing he will come to the left-hand bend too near the inside kerb and on the exit he will have to wait to have the car straight before he can start accelerating.

Next Week Cornering: Controlling the car.


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