How champion racing car drivers cheat the racing line and can beat racers to the letter

One of the first lessons for aspiring racing drivers is the racing line. The out-in-out line is as old as the track times and the simple logic behind it is good enough to get you started on your way through the timelines.

There are, however, some rides that the best pilots can exploit to go faster and the Donut media is here to explore them.

First, a quick primer on what the racing line actually does. If you imagine a corner being part of a circle, the exit line essentially makes that circle as big as possible. This is important because it gives your car’s grip the best chance of overcoming the inertia that tries to push it away. In theory, the racing line allows you to carry the most speed in a turn.

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This theoretical racing line is what physicists call a “toy model”. In essence, this is the simplest possible way to express a concept and ignores much of the complexity of what goes on in reality. You can see why this could be a useful tool for teaching a novice, but if you want to take it a step further, you need to equip yourself with more thinking skills.

First of all, many turns on a race track (if not most) do not describe a simple arc. There are increasing radius turns, decreasing radius turns, the dreaded double top, chicane, and more. This complicates matters considerably and means that the simple out-in-out racing line doesn’t always work better.

Then there is the assumption that the grip is a constant, which unfortunately is wrong. The car is a changeable, changeable thing that constantly gains and loses grip.

There are also complicating factors in the form of other drivers, tire retention, and individual car idiosyncrasies that mean getting the most out of the car doesn’t always mean carrying the most speed through the top.

As is often the case in real life, there are countless moving parts and complications, but their balance is what separates fast pilots from champions.

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