In the previous articles we talked about video systems and how to use a cockpit camera to find common driver mistakes. Now that you have a video system how else can you use it to improve? Here we discuss some common driver mistakes that you can spot by reviewing your pedal video and how to fix the issues.
Pedal Camera Video Review
The next step up in video systems is installing an additional camera in the pedal box area. The pedal camera allows you to see what you are doing with your other input devices, your feet. There is a lot to be learned by observing your footwork especially if you can sync it with your cockpit video. When studying your video here are some of the common mistakes drivers make.
Lifting the Throttle
Drivers normally think they are flat through a corner or at full throttle. However, if you look back at your video especially in the fast scary corners - you might notice that you lightly relax or lift your foot without knowing it. This subconscious lift of the throttle can be unbelievable when you first notice it. So how do you fix it? Find the corners where you are cheating the throttle and spend the next track session focusing on how you can get to, and stay, at full throttle in the turn.
Be on the brakes or on the throttle. The good thing about driving on the street is you get lots of time to practice. The bad thing is you can also practice bad habits. Amateurs are used to coasting from driving on the streets where they are not trying to get every bit of performance out of their cars. Watch your videos and see how quickly you transition from brake to throttle; see if there are any points where you are not pressing either pedal. There might be times when you need the car to take a set, but that is an extremely rare case and more than likely you need maintenance throttle not no throttle. If you notice yourself coasting, note the areas of the track where it happens and practice on the simulator or during test sessions to eliminate this habit. Just being aware of coasting can greatly help in combating the issue. Keep reviewing your videos and practice your throttle and brake transitions to help get every bit of performance out of your car to improve those lap times.
Lifting Before Braking
Similar to lifting the throttle in the fast corners and perhaps more common for the amateur track driver is lifting before braking. As you approach the corner, your mind knows you are going to brake, so you start subconsciously coming out of the throttle as you approach the braking point. You might also be able to hear this when reviewing your video, but the best way to find it is by watching your feet. If you notice yourself cheating the throttle or relaxing before the corner, you might have this bad habit from street driving. As you approach the braking point, focus on your accelerator foot being all the way down right up until braking. Overtime, you can eliminate this lift and see the gains from more time spent at full throttle.
Initial Brake Application
Another bad habit form street driving is the initial soft application of the pedal as you begin braking. On the street your rarely slam on the brakes unless it is an emergency. Unfortunately this means many drivers fail to apply enough initial braking pressure. When braking the first application should be strong and hard, without locking up. To get great threshold braking you may have to modulate the pressure as the car slows down but the initial application should be solid, not timid. Practice this on a test day or in the simulator and you might find that you are now over-braking for the corner. This could be why people are beating you in the braking zone. With improved braking application you will be able to shorten your braking zone and move up your braking point. Don't go wild and move your braking point crazy distances. You want to take very small steps with braking points as the consequences can be very high.
There are two types of issues with brake release either snapping off or being too slow. The rate at which you release the brakes is a key part in helping to get the car rotated in a corner. Watch your videos and see if you are snapping off or are way to slow with your brake release. Try experimenting during your next test session and see how the rate at which you release the brake affects the rotation of the car. Focus on one or two corners and try different styles in successive laps to rule out any other effects such as changing track conditions.
For many drivers, the heel-and-toe technique can be learned quickly, but it takes awhile to master. I still have the occasional bad shift especially when I am trying to hustle the car too much during a race. Video can be a great tool to watch your footwork, especially listening to the engine note during shifts. Are you blipping the throttle correctly? Are smooth with the clutch? Do the revs drop too much? Once you notice issues, then you can begin to work on them.
Left Foot Braking
Video review can also be used to improve or learn new techniques. Left-foot braking is talked a lot about in the track day and racing community. If you are trying to learn this technique, you can practice a lot on a simulator. Once you feel comfortable using it, you can try it on the track. You can improve and hone your technique by using a pedal camera to look at your initial braking, threshold braking and brake release.
Example Video: Pedal View
If you watch the video below you will see some of the mentioned bad habits in my footwork. By imbedding your footwork video with the cockpit footage you can get a complete view of your inputs.
Continuous Video Review
Just like the cockpit camera you can learn more by combining you video review with data. Check you videos to make sure you haven't introduced any of these bad habits by looking for:
- A slight lifting of your foot on corner approach
- Snapping or slow brake pedal release
- Times your feet are off both the throttle and brake
- Slow or soft initial brake application
With practice and conscious training you can eliminate these bad habits and hopefully reduce your lap times.