Should You Left Foot Brake (transcript)

The first question that we have today is from Richard. He says hi, Scott. My track car is paddle shift. I made myself learn to left foot brake. During a recent spin in a friend’s GT4 race car, I was told that those guys actually right-foot brake. Is there a right answer of which foot to actually use?

Hi, I’m Scott Mansell and welcome to the driver61.com channel where we help drivers be faster, safer, and more consistent on track. I guess the first question here is actually trying to understand Richard why you span.

You say that you spun but I don’t know if it’s on the entry or the exit of the corner. Now, I would guess that it’s on the entry to the corner if you’re saying that it is something to do with the brakes and following on from now, I would also guess that it was probably because of a slight lack of feel in the left foot. That’s usually the problem that most drivers have when they’re beginning to learn or the left foot isn’t the main foot that they use for driving.

The first things to understand is why we left foot brake. Now, in most cases and for most drivers, the main benefit is the speed in which you can begin to brake once you’ve lifted off the accelerator. Obviously, if your left foot braking, you can get directly on the brake pedal. Whereas, if your right foot braking, you’ve got a transition from the accelerator all the way across to the brake pedal, pretty simple stuff. The next point is that most people have better feel in their right foot rather than their left foot.

If you’ve only just started learning to left-foot brake, it’s likely that your feel in the left foot won’t be as good as it is in the right foot. Well, if this is the case, you’re much better off right foot braking. That slight difference in time to get across from the accelerator onto the brake isn’t big of enough difference to make up for the lack of feel in your left foot. However, if you do have excellent feel in your left foot, then it is a slight advantage to use your left foot on the brakes because you do save that time.

But you need to be able to brake properly when you’re in a straight line. Threshold braking, making sure that we’re using all the grip of the car as we were braking in a straight line. Then you need to have the feel and the precision in your left foot to be able to control the mass and the weight of the car as you’re entering the corner and trail braking into the corner. If you can’t do this properly with your left foot, then you’re much better off actually using your right foot to do the breaking because you’ll have much better control.

If you do want to continue to use your left foot and if what I’ve explained that isn’t quite the problem that you were having, then there’s a couple of tips to really just help you a little bit with your left foot. The first thing is to make sure that your left foot physically is just positioned well on the floor of the car or in the heel rest so that you’ve got an anchor point between your heel and the floor of the car which your foot can then pivot off. That’s quite an important, yet very simple part of the process. It gives you the stability and the control in your left foot.

If you’re moving your foot and across as you might do with your right foot as well, but if you’re moving it, physically lifting it up and then putting it back down on the brake pedal, then just that entire movement and that the motion that your foot goes through can cause some lack of control on the brake pedal. The second thing that I would say in terms of improving the feel in your left foot is if you have an automatic car or even if you’re in a manual car when you’re not changing down, you can practice in your Road car.

Now, because they’re servo assisted the pressure that you need on the brake pedal is much lighter in a road car and actually, you’ll need more sensitivity in your left foot. It’s a great place to practice and improve the sensitivity in your left foot. Just be careful the first few times that you do it because our left foot is normally trained to use the clutch pedal. We have this instinctive notion that we put through our left foot.

The first time that you use it for left-foot braking, a lot of the time drivers will get on the brakes way, way too hard and actually almost go through the windscreen. Just be careful of that. Maybe try it in a very controlled way or when you’re absolutely sure there is no cars behind you on the road. Then after that, once you get used to the actual motion, you can really begin to make your left foot much more precise and actually think about how you would use it then in comparison to the racetrack. We get on the brakes and a nice consistent pressure and then try to release that brake pressure in a really smooth way so that when the car comes to a stop or when you want to stop your deceleration, you can’t actually feel the front of the car pop up. If you do feel the front of the car pop up, then it’s likely that the way that you come out of the brake pedal when you’re releasing the pressure is all done too harshly. As we know with trail braking, we want to try and make that moment where we’re controlling and then releasing the brake pressure as smooth as possible.

If you haven’t seen them already, I’ve got a 25-part tutorial series that’s free on the Driver61 website. If you haven’t already, be sure to check them out.

If you’re interested in getting any coaching, I’ll also put a link to the coaching services that we offer on Driver61. If you did enjoy this, please, make sure that you like this video and, please, subscribe to the Drive61 channel. Thank you, and I’ll see you next time.


Written by Scott Mansell

Scott Mansell is a PRO race driver and coach who founded Driver 61 in late 2015. He's developed and raced various cars from Caterhams to f1s.


Follow him on Twitter here or follow Driver61 on Facebook at OfficialDriver61.


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