The short­est pos­si­ble cor­ner


AF­TER LOOK­ING AT BRAK­ING tech­nique last month, it’s now time to get into the sub­stance of the turn. Here we of­ten want the car to ro­tate slightly more than you might think, not for the ben­e­fit of the cor­ner it­self, but for what fol­lows after­wards – of­ten a straight.

This tech­nique is not ap­pli­ca­ble for ev­ery cor­ner – at Copse at Sil­ver­stone, for example, you just want to get round in a har­monised way tak­ing a geo­met­ric line. How­ever, in many cor­ners, cre­at­ing the short­est pos­si­ble cor­ner with this ex­tra ro­ta­tion re­duces tyre wear and im­proves exit speed.

To do this, we need to put on an­other cou­ple of de­grees of steer­ing an­gle in the mid­dle of the cor­ner near what we call the apex – it may not be the geo­met­ric apex of the cor­ner, but it’s our apex on our line – so that we can then take a cou­ple of de­grees out im­me­di­ately after­wards, and then do a sub­tly di­ag­o­nal line to­wards the out­side of the track. This means your wheels are point­ing straighter on the exit, tak­ing an aw­ful lot of ki­los (re­mem­ber our weight trans­fer les­son) out of the loaded side of the car, and it there­fore ac­cel­er­ates faster.

It’s very sub­tle – not that vis­i­ble to the naked eye – but like the edge of a 50p piece. In­tro­duc­ing that ex­tra steer­ing an­gle does give us a slightly higher peak load at the tyre mo­men­tar­ily dur­ing the mid­dle of the curve, but the pay­back is less load over the next eight car lengths to the exit. Think of it like plac­ing your hand on a red-hot stove for a split sec­ond, com­pared with hold­ing it on a cooler, but still hot, stove for ten sec­onds – the lat­ter will al­ways do more dam­age.

‘The short­est cor­ner re­duces tyre wear and im­proves exit speed’

Rob tu­tors as­pir­ing rac­ing driv­ers and cur­rent pro­fes­sional rac­ers

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