So what is this text about?
One of the most common phenomena that I experience when coaching at more amateur levels is the try from people to do and train more complicated things when they have not yet solidified the most basic ones.
And what I mean by that? Here is a quick example.
Many times I jump in the passenger seat, knowing that the person that I am sitting next to is a novice, and as soon as we arrive at the first corner they start heel & toe during their braking.
The first and most obvious thing to me at that point is the pressure on the brakes, which usually is not constant at all but instead feels like an on/off every time they go down a gear.
Then follows the completely lost entry point / entry speed / cornering speed.
With all that brake massaging and the pressure not being constant that means that – even if we had a solid reference braking point – we had probably overshot the corner, the entry and we were now entering a corner at the wrong point, with a slower speed than what we should etc.
At the following lap, usually, the opposite happens. If the driver was cautious and remembered what happened the previous time, they will try to either pull their braking point earlier, push the pedal harder and in most cases both.
So what comes next is that we arrive at the entry of the corner but this time too slow, as we have over slowed the car. And a whole different set of things unravels before us. Far from ideal.
Do I also need to mention the countless times that the gearbox crunches just because pressing down the clutch and putting the gear in is out of sync? I think you can imagine how also this affects the momentum of the car, the entry points, speeds and potentially even create mechanical damage to the car.
Another very good example is trail braking.
Just because it is written in the books that this will be the fastest and shortest way to decelerate the car, it doesn’t mean that we have to try and figure it out from the beginning.
First thing we have to be comfortable with moving the weight of the car while cornering. With everything that this brings with it. If we are not, then what is the point of bringing ourselves in a situation where we are now trying to control something, that clearly is not making us feel comfortable, and is taking all of our processing power from everything else that is equally or even more important. Where is the apex, is the speed right, are we carrying too much speed, when can we start accelerating?
So what I am trying to say this time is, don’t try to dive immediately and train the more advanced techniques.
Remember, there is no golden single driving technique that will simply transform you to the king of track days or a world champion after mastering it.
Doing the basic stuff good and consistently is what all your focus should be about.
It is far after you have solid reference points, good understanding of what a racing line is, good feel for the weight of the car, how to identify an apex and when & how you should start accelerating out, understanding how the layout of the car you are driving differs from others (FF,FR,MR,RR,4WD) and more…
The list is very big and driving time on the other hand is very limited. I do understand this, believe me.
So although it is understandable trying to squeeze in as many things as you can in one or two days, try to resist this urge and remember to focus initially on simply nailing down the basic stuff.
I do the same! If I have very limited driving time behind the steering wheel of a car – i.e. maybe for a couple of reference laps only – and it doesn’t immediately feel intuitive to left foot brake or heel & toe (maybe because the seat or pedal position feel a bit off), i switch my focus from trying to do these things right to showing a good and consistent lap to the driver instead.
Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Well, try this next time you visit the track and see how it works out for you.