Transcript from video
Hi, I’m Scott Mansell and welcome to the Driver 61 Channel. Now vision, when you’re on a race track, is the most important and fundamental skill that you can learn to be quicker, more consistent and have better racing lines. Compared to driving on the normal road where you’re looking out for other cars, pedestrians and roadsides, what you’re looking out for and how you use your vision on the racetrack is completely different. In my experience as a racing coach, when new drivers come to me or even drivers who’ve been racing for a couple of years, their vision is often way too close to the car and way too narrow and we work really hard to open up this vision and get them looking much further ahead. In this video, I’m going to look at exactly where the Formula One drivers are looking when they’re on track, using eye-tracking technology and some incredible footage from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix where the drivers were using clear visors.
A while back, Sky Sports did a piece where they put some eye-tracking glasses on Nico Hulkenberg. When you watch the driver’s on track, the eye movement is actually very busy and this is because the human eye has a small focal point and said the eye has to move around a lot to take small pieces of information which the brain then maps together to give a good understanding of the position of the car and how quickly you’re entering the corner. As you can see from this footage of when Nico looks in his mirror as he’s coming out of the pit lane, the eye movement of a Formula One driver is very quick. They can look at the mirror in 0.1 of a second, a tenth of a second. During the night races of Formula One, it’s always amazing to see that the drivers wear clear visors and so we can see their eyes, it’s incredible to watch the super slo-mo footage of actually where the driver’s eyes are looking. So here we have some of that incredible onboard footage from Abu Dhabi where the drivers are wearing clear visors and it’s amazing just to see how much they turn their head and how far across they’re actually looking.
So let’s head into the footage now. You can see here that we’ve got a close up of Sergio Perez, now, he’s got his head tilted just a little bit in this angle here but what’s important is you can see that he’s looking all the way across down here and he’s coming through the second part of the chicane, the right-hander, so he’s looking directly across and he’ll be looking for that apex as he’s coming in and as you can see, he’s fixated on that apex, gauging how much speed he can take it into the corner and when he can begin to pick up the throttle again. Look at his vision now, I mean, it’s so far across, it’s incredible. Most drivers, when they’re new to track driving or sim driving, they’re definitely not looking across as far as they can.
We have a tutorial on where to look and how to improve your vision on track in the Driver’s 61 University series which you can view here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4nyExkzseE&t It’s a really in-depth tutorial so please take a look. But for the moment, we’re going to jump on board with myself in a Radical SR3 at Spa so I can explain exactly where I’m looking and then I’ll explain how you can train yourself to look a little bit further ahead on the track or when you’re in the sim so you can improve your lap times and become a better racing driver.
So here we are on board with myself in a Radical SR3 coming down to the final chicane at SPA. So at this point, I’m looking simply down the track, looking somewhere in this area with my vision probably just on the apex, on the inside. Now, sometimes I use a visual reference for a braking marker so I know when to brake or I know where I should be braking but in this particular instance, I actually use a bump in the track. So I’m not braking on the bump, I’m just braking a few meters after it or maybe five meters after it. Physical references I prefer because you feel it and you can get on the brakes while you’re already looking at the apex but in some areas, on some tracks, we’re using our peripheral vision as a braking reference.
So if we just come forwards a little bit, you can see the data logging just down here that I’m getting out of the throttle, getting on the brakes and coming down the gears. Now, the important thing to watch here is my helmet and you can see already that it’s looking across to this apex so all that I’m looking for is across and down at this apex a couple of seconds or more before we get there and when you do that, you give yourself so much time to understand how the car’s moving, you give yourself much more time to understand when you should turn the car into the corner. Now, new drivers or people who aren’t very experienced, they’ll be looking just in front of them here, they’ll turn the car and then look at the corner. Well, if you do this, how do you know exactly how much steering angle to put in the car as you’re looking towards that apex? So you really need to look across very early before you turn and a long way before you turn.
So let’s just move the video forward a few frames. You can see that I’ve got my vision right on the apex and as I’m coming in, I’m even looking further across and I’m looking for the sausage kerb on the inside, this orange kerb on the inside of the normal red and yellow kerb. So I’ve started to put some steering angle in moving my head a long way across, that’s one thing that a lot of people don’t realise is that you actually have to move your head a long way across and move your eyes a long way across as we saw in that previous Formula One footage. I’m bringing the car into the apex now, the next thing to watch out for is how early I actually shift my head across to the left looking for the second apex. So now I moved the head across already, you can see that I’m turning left, but actually, with the steering angle, you can see that I’m turning left but that’s just opposite lock, the car’s still travelling right. So I’ll collect up the opposite lock but I’ve already shifted my vision across to the next corner more than a couple of seconds before we get there so I know exactly how much speed I can take in, I can map out how tight the corner is and I know exactly when to turn in towards that apex.
So now look at how angled my head is, I’m looking directly across here so it’s really important that you physically move your neck and look across at that apex. And then as I’m coming into the apex, you can’t quite see it, there we are, we just made the apex on the inside. Now, my vision will be up here looking for the exit so when we’re looking for the extremity of the circuit, another couple of seconds ahead of already where we are so I can gauge exactly when to get on the throttle and you can see here, actually, if you watch the telemetry, I’m already on the throttle. So before I start increasing that acceleration, I’ll already be looking towards the exit points so I know exactly when I can get on it and how much I can get on it and how I should release the steering towards the exit of the corner. Now we’re just coming out of the corner and there we go, when you come onto the straight, it’s a great opportunity to check the car’s temperatures, your delta and anything else that you might need to do.
So this is the most important and fundamental technique that you can learn to be quick on the race track in your sim, good vision. So how do we go about learning it? Well, it sounds like a very simple thing to do, you just need to look a little bit higher, a little bit further ahead of yourself. But actually, when you’re on the track or in the sim and there are lots of other things going on, we kind of get the red mist and completely forget about adapting our vision to try and look that little bit further ahead of ourselves. So my advice to you and the most efficient way to train yourself to look a little bit further ahead is to actually drive round at 70% or 80% of your maximum speed so you’re not using as much mental capacity and then you can consciously say to yourself, okay, I need to be looking at the apex, next, I need to be looking at the exit. You give yourself a little bit more room to be conscious of exactly where you’re looking. If you’d like to learn more about vision, please check out the Driver 61’s University at www.driver61.com/uni where you’ll find many tutorials on driving technique.