You don’t need to be Lewis Hamilton in order to get faster.
Amateur racers can improve themselves if they practice a little bit each day. There are simple things that drivers can do to improve their racing that only take 15 to 30 minutes per day, and cost you very little. The sweet thing is that a lot drivers aren’t even attempting to do many of these little things during their ‘downtime’. That gives you an advantage.
You’ve got 30 minutes today, right? Then you can start becoming faster.
Last week, I wrote about the negative effects on driving when over-stressing one area of the body. Now what happens after the entire body has been stressed?
Another thinking has emerged, using the tensegrity model, that your body’s fascia plays a large role in determining your posture and structure. Fascia is the connective tissue that makes up nearly 60% of the muscle. It also encases and suspends the muscles and bones of the body.
Fascia is plastic in nature, which means that it cannot change its structure quickly like muscles that contract and relax – rather it adapts and grows around the structures and strains placed on the body.
So what does that means in terms of racing?
Until recently, it was assumed that the body operated as a mechanical model where it was assumed that forces were localized to individual parts of the body. So for example, when gripping a steering wheel it could be assumed that the force would (mostly) transmit through your hands, forearms and upper arms to eventually stop at the neck and shoulders.
However, myofascial research (muscles and their surrounding fascia or connective tissue layers) is now painting a different picture.
The research has found that the current model is incomplete and that the body actually functions as a tensegrity based system, where instead of the body being individual parts that sum up a whole, everything is connected. Under tensegrity model, forces are distributed throughout the whole system and cannot be localized to one body part.
So what does that means in terms of racing?
No matter the machine, all cars have one common element. The only thing that is constantly touching the ground are its tires. Those rubber contact patches are crucial to what helps accelerate the car, slow it down and keep it attached to the ground. Managing the weight of the car between the limits of its four contact patches of the tires generates the speed and lap time we’re all looking for.
In its most basic principle, we as drivers are tire managers. Now that’s easy to talk about, but a lot more challenging to accomplish in the real world. So where do we get started? Let’s start first with understanding how a tire basically works.
A few days ago, I wrote an article about the importance of having a good driving coach, regardless of a driver’s skill level. Soon after, I received a reader comment which resonated with me:
- “Loved your article on driver coaching. My friend races go-karts. I wish I could help him more, but I’ve never raced a kart myself, so I don’t think I’d be that helpful as coach.” -Reader Comment
This statement could not be any less true. You could be helping coach your driver right now, and you don’t even have to be a racer!
Today’s crash wasn’t as bad as this one at Spa, but these incidents are something that Romain can remove from his driving habits.
Watching Romain Grosjean’s first corner collision at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, one starts to wonder what can be done to help the young Frenchman from plowing into someone. It’s clear that he’s got talent and speed, but something inside the young man is preventing him from realizing his potential.
His first corner incidents seem to be more unintentional than anything else, which means that they can be removed from his driving habits. He’s already had a one race ban, and now it’s coming to the point that people are starting to give him less of the benefit of the doubt when he is involved in an incident.
What would help Romain Grosjean? He just needs a driving coach.
*I believe that the more information that you have as a driver, the better your opportunities will be on track. I’m going to be writing a few articles about how I believe you can improve your driving form. Let me know what you think by leaving comments on the StartingGrid Facebook or Twitter pages!
As a driver, the higher quality of kinesthesia that your body receives, the more likely you will achieve a positive on track performance. The inputs that you feel through the road surface, the tires, suspension and the chassis help to determine what decisions you end up making on track.
So it would benefit you to have the best input surfaces possible. Over the next few articles, I will focus on how the driver can improve his sensitivity in some of the key contact areas of the body with the car/kart. I’ll talk about how the brain inputs the signals that it is receiving, and what changes you can make to improve the quality of your driving inputs.
Recently I’ve found myself in a huge mental fog, at least when my own driver development is concerned. For months, I’ve felt like I haven’t been improving much while my peers are moving on. In the meantime, I kept driving and practicing with the means that I have, but I’d felt like I’d hit a bit of a talent wall.
I decided that it was time to make some changes to see if I could make it over that next hurdle.
Alain McNish is one of my racing heroes. His approach to racing is so detailed and informative. This interview covers a lot of his mental and physical preparation, on and off the track. Worth the watch, even though it’s 30 minutes long.
Super worth it.
About 20 years ago, when Sega came out with ‘Pole Position’, video-games weren’t much help for the up- and- coming racing driver. However, now with the advances in modern video game technology, I feel that racing games have become a useful driver development tool.
For drivers like myself, who don’t have access or budget to spend all day at the track or in a state-of-the-art racing simulator, using a video game is useful aid for when I am able to set a wheel on the track. Of course, you don’t get the same kinesthetic information as you would in a real car. I don’t think that racing games should be used to simulate real-world physical driving. However, I think a good video game is useful to develop stronger mental programming within the driver.