Today’s tutorial examines in detail how to maximise the corner entry phase of a turn. Typically, drivers can lose or gain a lot of time in this area, which is technically complex.
There’s lots of balance required when releasing the brakes as smoothly as possible and beginning to steer into the apex. It’s easy to unsettle the car and lose a truck-load of lap time and just as easy to not carry enough speed into the turn – finding the balance is difficult.
This Driver’s University tutorial will cover:
- Exactly what is the corner entry phase
- How technique needs to differ for various corners
- Steering and braking to maximise entry speed
- Being conscious of limiting factors
- Common improvements to make
What is the Corner Entry Phase?
As you can see from the diagram below, the corner entry phase is the section of the turn where we begin to steer the car towards the apex or clipping point.
At this point, we’ve already had our vision on the apex for a while, and we’re beginning to release the brakes (if we’re trail braking).
Different Corners, Different Techniques
I often hear drivers talking about their particular style or driving technique, and explain that’s just how they drive. While this is true – all drivers have a particular style – great drivers will have a much more fluid approach.
If you want to be fast, it’s not enough to simply drive every corner in the same way.
A fast driver will think about separate parts of each turn individually and how they can maximise everything to gain those extra few hundredths of a second. And this is particularly import with the corner entry phase.
How to Steer For Maximum Entry Speed
Steering into a corner is easy, right? We do it every day on the roads, so why should it be different on the track?
Those of you with circuit experience will know that road driving and circuit driving are worlds apart – and we should think about technique with this in mind.
If we begin to enter a corner with the car at the threshold of grip, where it’s completely at the limit, any additional load on the car will cause it to slide.
This is why we always explain that any inputs into the car should be silky smooth. It’s no different with your steering at corner entry – you need to be as smooth as possible.
With many new circuit drivers, I often see an over eager turn-in, which simply shocks the tyres and forces the car into a prematurely early slide. A sliding car at a below optimal speed isn’t what we want. When we’re driving on track, we want this breaking of traction to be at as high a speed as possible.
As we spoke about in a previous article, how you turn will vary between corner types. The general rules are:
Slow corner = later apex & faster steering input (but still smooth)
Fast corner = earlier apex & slower steering input
Braking For Maximum Entry Speed
The braking part of corner entry is critical to getting the most out of your car. By this point in the corner, the majority of deceleration is done, and the driver will be beginning to release brake pressure as he trail brakes into the turn.
We covered how to carry the maximum speed into a corner in the last tutorial, but I’ll cover the highlights here too.
As mentioned, by the time you’re turning the car into the corner, most of the braking is completed, and you’ll need to be gently releasing the brake pressure. If you try to turn in with maximum brake pressure, the car will slide and you won’t enter the corner with an optimal speed.
As you’re trail braking into the corner, the goal is not so much to slow the car, but rather to control the pitch and weight transfer. By managing the car’s pitch, we control the grip balance and can manipulate this to ensure we’re using 100% of all four tyre’s grip at corner entry.
This is a complicated technique to understand, so please take a look over the previous articles for more information.
What’s important to remember, especially with the release of brake pressure, is that our inputs should be incredibly soft – any sharp movements at this point will cause the car to break grip prematurely.
Becoming Aware of Your Inputs
We’re going to go into this in more detail in a future tutorial, but it’s important to be aware of what you’re doing when you’re driving, which is harder than it sounds.
A few weeks ago, I conducted a remote coaching session with a good race driver. We looked over video and compared data after a test day.
The driver’s technique was pretty good – there were just a few things to fine tune – but the biggest takeaway from the session was that he had no idea how he was actually driving the car. His entire capacity was taken up by driving the car, with no room left to think about what was happening.
If you want to become a very fast driver, you need to be conscious of all of your driving inputs so you can analyse and improve.
The best way to train your brain to become aware of what you’re doing on track is to begin on the road. When you’re driving your street car, start to think about how you begin braking, how you release the brake pedal, where you’re looking and how you’re steering.
While the technique might be different, the process of being aware will transfer onto the track and will open up mental capacity to think about how you can improve.
Limiting Factors – What’s Slowing Me Down?
Once you’re conscious of what you’re doing in the car, you need to become aware of what the car’s doing beneath you.
This is particularly important with corner entry as you’re balancing a number of inputs and can control the car’s balance.
The idea is to think about what’s restricting you from going a little faster. You can then analyse this and change technique to try and carry more speed into the apex.
This is how I might think about trying to take more speed into corner:
- Is it the front or rear of the car that’s sliding first?
- Is this because by steering is too hard, my brake release is too early/late or because I’ve reached the optimum speed for this corner entry
- How can I change my technique to carry more speed?
So let’s take a look at a real life example:
- I decelerate to the correct speed for a medium-speed corner
- I begin to release the brakes and turn gently towards the apex
- The rear of the car starts to slide, but the front is solid. What’s stopping me from going faster? The rear, we’re ‘rear limited.’
- How can I change my technique to give the rear more grip? I could release brake pressure slightly more before I turn which will allow the front of the car to rise sooner and give the rear more grip (see the weight transfer and trail braking articles for an explanation)
- The next lap/session I try this and realise I can carry one mph more into the apex, and I save a good chunk of lap time
Common Areas of Improvement at Corner Entry
As always, to be as fast as possible, we need to ensure we have a solid base of smooth and fluid inputs into the car – any hard movements will cause a premature breaking of traction.
In summary, to maximise the corner entry phase, you’ll need to make sure:
- Vision is a long way ahead of yourself and broad
- You don’t over slow the car (see the previous tutorial)
- You have smooth inputs and don’t unnecessarily cause the car to slide below its potential entry speed
That’s all for today’s tutorial, thank you very much for reading. If you enjoyed the article, please share it on your social media and I’ll see you next week, Scott.