Feel Learning Exercises
Published: June 8, 2013
These are exercises for developing one's feel of the car.
These exercises are designed to, in effect, create new track layouts on existing tracks. Whereas you may have mechanical memory for many corners on a track you have driven several times, a new layout will force you to determine turn in points and speeds as you drive.
At the same time, using only a portion of track width greatly increases effective runoff areas. You can overdrive the car for the exercise constraints but you will almost always still fit into pavement. This is meant to provide a lot more confidence to experiment with braking and acceleration.
No doubt you will use some of the reference points you have on the track, but the objective of these exercises as it applies to traction sensing and car feel is to pay attention to what the car, and specifically tires, are doing, rather than develop mechanical memory and reference points. That said, you can equally well use these exercises to work on finding reference points in each of the new layouts, and that is also a very good thing to do.
Center Track Exercise
Enter every corner following track centerline, parallel to edges of the track. Touch the apex in each corner. Then, track out back to the center of the track.
Do not be fooled by the short description - because this exercise leaves ample room on both sides of the car in both corner entry and exit, it permits aggressive experimentation in all corners of a circuit. Alternating left / right exercise can provide the same effect but requires more track time.
Left / Right Exercise
For the left exercise, imagine there is a car to your right that is keeping up with you the entire lap. Wherever you are on the track, you must leave at least a car width worth of track to your right for the imaginary car.
Therefore, in right turns you can turn in from extreme left but you must stay at least a car width away from the apex on the right, and you can track out all the way to the left. In left turns you must turn in at least a car width away from the right side of the track, you can hit the apex on the left, and you can only track out to within a car width of the right edge of the track.
Alternating Left / Right Exercise
This is a good exercise for increasing speed while maintaining consistency and balance. In-car lap timing is required.
Start by running two hot laps on the left side. You will have a lap time for the best lap. After start/finish, change to the right side and run on the right side until you beat your left side lap time, but no less than two laps. Switch to left side and run on the left side until you beat your right side time, but no less than two laps. And so on.
You should find that you can get quite close to full track lap time without using full track.
For best results, run full track after an alternating left / right exercise in a later session during the same event.
No Backing Out Rules
Ideally, each corner should be split into three segments as follows:
- Increasing brake application;
- Decreasing brake application;
- Increasing acceleration.
What that means is once you start to reduce brake pressure, you should not add brake pressure in that corner. Once you get on power, do not reduce throttle position; shift to the next higher gear if you think you are accelerating too hard, but accelerate flat out. And whenever you get off the brakes, start accelerating - there should be no coasting added between the outlined segments.
The aim of the rules is to perform trailbraking until the apex of most corners and start accelerating early. In practice they may be difficult to adhere to, especially if limited time is available in each session or the day overall. Keep the goals in mind and try to do your best approximation of them.
The center track exercise in particular allows extra runoff room on both corner entry and exit to experiment with late braking and early acceleration more aggressively.
Feel Vs Reference Points
While these exercises are intended to teach feel, and it is my opinion that feel in required to drive fast, feel is not a substitute for reference points. The best drivers will use both feel and reference points.