Once you are in the groove, it can be very difficult to work out where you can gain time around a track. You feel you have more or less optimised your braking points and you are hitting your apexes, but you can’t help but feel there be more time to be found?
The answer could lie in how well you are using your tyres, and once you understand the principle, this fact can be easily spotted in amongst the wiggly lines of a data logging trace.
If you are braking on the limit, you will have no grip left for cornering and vice versa. The trick here is to combine the two, because then you get more out of the tyre.
How is this possible? Well, if you can recall those mechanics maths lessons at school about force vectors, the way you add up forces which act at 90 degrees to each other is to square them, add them up, then take the square root of the result, good old Pythagoras’ Theorem in action.
For example, if your tyre can generate 1G and you are braking at ½ G, you would think that you could only corner at ½ G at the same time. In fact, you would have 0.87G of cornering ability left due to the way forces are combined, so it is vital that you learn to make the most of this phenomenon.
What does this mean for racing? Well, it means that if you can cleverly combine braking and cornering you can extract more grip from the tyre than if you just brake in a straight line and then turn, and this will gain you lap time.
The trick is to study a channel named ‘ComboG’ in professional analysis packages such as Circuit Tools from RACELOGIC. The software does the maths for you by a vector combination of the two forces, and is a great indicator showing you how hard you are working your tyres. During the braking, corner entry and apex phases, this channel should give you a good idea of how much you are optimising your tyre’s potential grip.
In reality most of us combine these two naturally whilst racing, but how sure are you that you are absolutely getting the maximum out of your tyres at all times?
As you release the brake and start turning into the corner, it is tricky to maximise the tyres during this crucial phase. Most drivers use the maximum grip during constant braking and constant cornering, but very few during the transition.
Have a look at these two traces from the tricky Brooklands corner at Silverstone, you can see the ComboG dropping off briefly during the turning in phase. This could mean that the driver was braking too early, or he wasn’t turning in sharply enough, or most likely a combination of the two. Once you learn to use this powerful channel, you will begin to quickly spot areas where you can gain lap time by working the tyres harder.