Former Formula 1 driver and two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Alexander Wurz has partnered with SAFEisFAST to answer questions. The latest Online Driving Instructor to join, Wurz's answers will be posted daily throughout this week. One of the questions and answers is below, with the full Q&A thus far in this link.
Q: It seems I hear a number of conflicting philosophies on braking techniques among amateur sports car racers. Could you briefly describe your main technical approaches to braking for corners of different speeds? For example, deciding whether you trail brake, late brake or touch the brakes to settle the car, etc.
ALEX WURZ : It is impossible to give you one answer. Each car, each tire, each corner might require a different braking method. Braking methods are something which should not be fixed, as during a race one might have to change the braking method. The brakes are extremely important for the car's balance, so depending upon what balance you like to have by the turn-in or mid corner, you can change your braking style and brake balance.
For example, if you are racing with high tire degradation on the rear, you will change your driving line so you will need to change your braking method.
Personally I like to trail brake. As I come off the brake it needs to be timed with turning in. I turn in usually very smooth and come off the brake progressively and coordinate that with the steering and weight transfer of the car – basically making sure that at all times of the braking and cornering I use the maximum possible force the tire can transmit!
If my car would be nervous on turn-in, I would keep the brake pressure a little longer and move the brake balance a bit forward, so I overload the front tire and with that I protect/help the rear at the turn-in area. However if you do this, you need to come off the brakes very gently. Otherwise you might create an oversteer at the moment when you come off the brakes when the front tire is freed of the braking force and has full lateral steering force available instantly. That might cause a sudden oversteer as your front tire will steer the car and if the rear is still not stable at this point, oversteer is logical…
Well, maybe it gets too complicated now but bottom line, a tire can transmit a certain amount of forces and you have four tires. Two of them can steer and four of them can brake so the best braking method is a question of how the rest of the corner looks. I am afraid there is no easy answer.
Wurz's sessions follow fellow current drivers Jenson Button (Formula 1), James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Dario Franchitti (IndyCar), Andy Lally (sports cars), PitFit Training founder Jim Leo and 2003 Indianapolis 500 and two-time CART champion Gil de Ferran.
SAFEisFAST.com is a free online resource offering video tutorials on safety, fitness, mental skills, race craft, career development, sponsorship, marketing and more to assist the careers of drivers in all forms of racing. The website was created by the Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC), led by president Bobby Rahal, in conjunction with the FIA Institute for Motor Sport Safety and Sustainability. Since its launch, there have been over 90,000 views of the online tutorials with visitors representing 105 countries.