The Principle of Slow in / Fast Out
One of the most common mistakes in trying to be fast on any given track is braking too late in the heat of the battle or due to general tension/excitement.
It is perhaps a logical mistake, the later the better, fast entry into a turn. what could be wrong with that.
In general braking late is only efficient and preferable when:
Out braking another car
Following another car closely and the need to use a different line out of the turn
When deliberately going for alternative lines with the knowledge you will benefit from it.
The rest of the time you are relatively on your own and the main thing to focus on is the most efficient way to negotiate each and every turn.
Being fast or becoming fast is a rather complicated issue however it can also be simplified into one item: your speed out of a turn.
The exit speed of any turn is what in general will give you the best or most ideal lap times.
If your exit speed is compromised then you are not being effective. This could be due to braking too late, a setup issue, wrong lines and even faulty hardware (throttle does not give 100%) or quite a few other reasons.
If you have read the article about ideal racing lines
[insert link to page when created
] then you understand the mechanics of getting the 3 main characteristics right (braking/line/exit) but it still could be narrowed down to just exit speed.
Exit speed is the main factor of the speed you can/will carry into the next bit of the track.
Exit speed determines whether or not you will get the extra speed at the end of a straight or any speed into other turns.
When you reached your maximum speed out of the turn, it means your entry speed and ideal line are also correct.
When you lack speed out of the turn (by checking MOTEC or other drivers) it means your braking and/or ideal line are most likely incorrect.
So exit speed determines allot of variables and instead of concentrating on the details or changing the setup over and over again, or getting frustrated. Simply focus on exit speed:
Can you go faster on exit?
What do you need to do to go even faster in a particular turn
Why are others twice as fast on exit. (i.e. compare yourself with others)
will ultimately decide the majority of your setup choices as well. Your wing settings, your ratio's, steering angle, brake pressure. etc. Not all of it of course and there are many other considerations to be made in racing, but when going back to basics as we are trying to do with this article, the exit speed will be vital for your general performance, balance and overall speed.
is used in general to point out that braking late is not always efficient. In most of the cases braking late simply means missing the apex, missing a good exit and even unbalance the car so much you have to compromise the entire turn to get back on a reasonable pace.
If you think your exit speed could be better, try braking slightly earlier (within a range of 10 to 20 meters)
Each turn requires a different approach. it could well be that you need to compromise curtain parts of the track in order to get the upper hand on other parts.
For example it is a common practise for some drivers to ignore the better part of a chicane and solely focus on the first entry and the last exit. Anything in between 'could' be ignored or -when used properly 'by the book'- even undermine the efficiency of the chicane as a whole.
In another example when facing a long straight and two short difficult turns prior to that straight, the only thing that really matters is the speed you can get on the straight. This could well be accomplished by totally ignoring the ideal lines of the 2 short turns and solely focussing on how to 'get out' as fast as possible.
So one could argue that an Ideal Line is only ideal when it serves the exit speed. When the exit is compromised then the ideal line was not good enough.
[this to underline that different cars/mods require different approaches. a Modern F1 car will use totally different ideal lines then an F1 car from 1979 simply because the performances are so extremely different. With that in mind its safe to say that ideal lines are not embedded in a track. even if they are painted on the tarmac, your car and/or setup might need something else to get fast]
And lastly, its impossible to setup a car that is ideal for each and every turn. When dealing with fast out
you will need to find a satisfying compromise based on your skills and driving style. For example we simply cannot set up our wings for each turn, there is always a balance which will also effect our performance out of a turn.
So this could mean you need to focus on curtain turns, curtain exits or even solely on straight line speed. Some focus on the 'easy' parts of a track, setup the car for that and reach great performance through those sections. others might go for the difficult parts and try to nail them as best as they can and take other parts for granted.
In the end the right compromises that give you the best exit-performances overall
are most likely the most efficient compromises.