Summoning the courage to hurl a car into a 100-mile-an-hour bend is tough. Actually, it’s wiser not to hurl the car in, but to gently turn the car with a delicate-yet-assertive management of the weight. At high speeds, every mistake is punished, the careless driver puts themselves in the wall, and the ace truly shines.
Of course, getting through a fast corner quickly, predictably, and repeatedly takes a methodical approach. Even the richest guys out there can’t afford to crash every time they try to test their mettle in a quick corner; if they don’t break the bank, they’ll break their back. Here are two steps to building confidence and precision in these types of bends.
Step One: Find a Familiar Corner (Preferably with Runoff)
Finding the confidence in these daunting bends isn’t something that comes from blind faith. Finding a corner that’s somewhat familiar is crucial, since knowing every pockmark, crack, and grain of sand decorating that particular piece of the circuit is reassuring and means the basic strokes have been made. Also, if in that particular corner the car can be driven off-track without a penalty or an accident, it’s a wonderful place to practice.
By having this general knowledge of the corner, you can relax your grip and allocate more of your mental reserves to the challenging task at hand. Focus on refining your inputs and never “shock” the car into rotating.
Step Two: Strive for a Balanced Platform
Keeping all four tires evenly depressed into the asphalt at the turn-in point and through the middle of the corner is the basic idea here. Whereas slow corners might reward plenty of assertiveness in the form of trail braking and manhandling, lots of silky smooth inputs are needed to go quickly (and safely) here. Keeping the platform balanced is imperative; the car needs to be treated with more care since it’s more sensitive to inputs at high speeds, and the cost of a mistake is much greater.
The high-speed inertia of a car, especially a mid- or rear-engined car, helps in rotation. Therefore, the car doesn’t need to be aggressively turned like it might in slower corners. Instead, cajole the wheel delicately and never make abrupt steering movements.
Braking inputs are generally softer, and it’s critical the brake pedal is released as progressively as possible! Thus, when the lateral loading begins, the weight has been transferred smoothly and evenly to the outside tires, and the chances of uncatchable oversteer are greatly minimized.
That’s not to say that the car can’t be slid slightly through fast corners. It’s just that with car up on its tippy-toes, it requires a gentle touch since the window between a mild slide and a spin is much smaller. Additionally, by keeping the platform balanced, the car’s natural rotational inertia will help turn the machine and, in fact, ensure a smoother, more manageable run through every phase of the corner.
For more detail on this idea, observe Michael Schumacher’s high-speed technique compared to Johnny Herbert’s, though, frankly, watching someone at that level is a little depressing.