What does the perfect lap look like? In this edition of the Racecraft & Driver Development Roundup, you will get one suggestion that you can debate amongst your race driver friends.
In addition to the perfect lap, I look at the debate around female driver development in light of the financial struggles of the W Series, taking that first step in racing, demystifying data acquisition, how to become a professional race car driver on four of the main championship paths and much more.
Strap yourself in and let’s begin.
Racecraft Tips & Techniques
- In the video above, Blayze Motorsports looks at how to find grip while racing in the rain. “The number one thing to know when racing in the wet is we need to experiment.”
- Ross Bentley of Speed Secrets answers the question: “What do you think of the advice, “point your nose where you want to go?”
- Grassroots Motorsports looks at how to shorten lap times–one section of track at a time. “Improving lap times when self-coaching is kind of like eating an elephant. You have to start small. Without a detailed plan, that goal is going to be really hard to achieve.”
- In Autosport, Lucas di Grassi looks at how engineers can get the best out of drivers. “All driver personalities are different, too. Some are very direct, and others are very political, never saying what they really think. So clearly there’s no easy solution for how engineers should work with drivers. However, there are some misconceptions that young engineers can avoid.”
- Want to get on track? Grassroots Motorsports explains how the first step is just taking that first step. “We hear a lot of questions involving the future. How to become a professional race car driver. How to get more involved in the sport. Or, God forbid, how to become a magazine editor. The short answer: Do it.”
- Blayze pro motorcycle coach Ken Hill has put together a video on learning to develop feel on the race track. He explains how riders and racecar drivers can start to develop feel on the race track.
- Your Data Driven has announced that their Tyre Tuning Course will be debuting soon. Or Tire Tuning Course depending on where you are based. According to Samir Abid, “The Tyre Tuning Course is a comprehensive self-paced online course for track drivers. Spread over several modules, the course gives you three things;
- Develops your mental models and intuition around how tyres work. Discover why “smooth” really is faster and many more “a-ha” moments to help you fill in the gaps behind why what you are seeing and feeling on track, really happens.
- Gain access to proven setup processes and must-know driving knowledge. The theory is ok but only if you can apply it. Working through each challenge you face – on track or off – you’ll get straight-forward answers on what to do (and why).
- Access to a powerful new setup tool. With much of this key tyre knowledge automagically baked-in, you’ll soon find it easier, and faster, to interpret what your tyres are telling you. Then be able to more reliably decide how best to maximise your tyre performance, next time out.
- Samir Abid also gives his answer to the question, what does the perfect lap look like? His answer is contained in this video of Lewis Hamilton’s pole lap for the 2018 Singapore Grand Prix. Why? Watch the video and then read Samir’s comments for an explanation.
- Grassroots Motorsports looks at how to demystify data acquisition. “Luckily, we motorsport enthusiasts live in a world that thrives on repeatability and objectively measurable metrics. Even those of us without the blessings of innate talent can attain higher abilities through studying our lap data. And that’s where the fun starts.”
Driver Development News & Resources
The Debate Around Female Race Driver Development
The topic of women in motorsport and how to develop them has become a hot topic this past week with news that the W Series are facing financial difficulties. Here are a few articles looking at the issue as well as proposing solutions and some resources you should investigate.
- The W Series is facing a crash crisis that could see it miss their final two races in the United States and Mexico. “The cash position of the company deteriorated during 2021, leaving it with just £212,367 in the bank at the end of the year. Despite raising additional capital, the cumulative losses of the company increased by £13.34 million in the same period and it was owed over £4.5 million by debtors.” In addition, W Series’ chief executive officer Catherine Bond Muir says she sees “no business case” in supporting female drivers through driver development programs. The deadline is next week to determine if the series can continue.
- The Sports Business Journal has a great feature on Indycar’s Beth Paretta discussing how more effort is needed to bring women to the forefront of motorsports. “I don’t think there’s enough being done. The reality is that more can be done — that’s not even a matter of opinion. And the racing business was turned on its head when ride buyers shifted everything. That’s what’s funny, is people call F1 the pinnacle — it’s like, ‘Um, the pinnacle of what?’ It’s the pinnacle of spending, but I don’t know if it’s the pinnacle of racing. … There’s also still a subtle problem where women are expected to be grateful for the opportunity and expected to be perfect. If (driver) Tatiana (Calderon) goes out in IndyCar and crashes … there becomes this subtle moment where people will be like, ‘Oh, should she be there? Does she deserve to be in that seat?’ But there’s a host of guys who go out and hit everything but the lottery and that guy is given a chance again and again.”
- Jonathan Noble of Autosport explains what he thinks are the steps needed to get a W Series graduate into F1 with extensive quotes from W Series founder and CEO Catherine Bond Muir. “What I say to that is Rome wasn’t built in a day,” she responds.“In 2016, when I started developing the idea, there was one woman racing in a [top level] single-seater championship for the entire season. You’d get the occasional entry in Indy or whatever, so I don’t think it’s realistic to say from 2016 to 2022, we should have got someone [in F1]. This is our third season: the issues and the reasons why there aren’t more senior women around are complex, but also deep-seated, and sit in a time period. Obviously, we want one of our drivers to get into F1 as quickly as possible, but I do think we need to be realistic.”
- One of the current debates is over the physicality of racing the current generation of race cars in F3 and F2 and whether they constitute barriers to female drivers. Not according to Abbi Pulling in the Autosport article discussing how F3’s all-female test proved physicality is no barrier to progression. “But Pulling, like those who drove in the test last year, as well as former F3 driver Sophia Floersch, said she did not face any problems with the handling of the car as a woman. Though she says the car, which comprises a Dallara chassis and Mecachrome engine, was “so different to anything I’ve ever driven,” Pulling said she “definitely felt it was comfortable to drive.”
- For another perspective, have a look at the interview that I did with Tami Powers of PowerDrive Motorsport Futures. “Now I understand that it doesn’t matter your gender or your skin color as it is always a struggle as a racer to find those financial resources but there are some unnecessary roadblocks for women and people with diverse backgrounds. What I want to do is begin a conversation with corporate brands about these athletes and connect them and tell their stories.”
- Here are a few organizations that are currently active in contributing to the development of female race drivers. This is just a sampling but look at the Motorsport Prospects Directory and News Racers Can Use blog for more.
More Driver Development News
- In the video above, Enzo Mucci looks at the racing ladders and career paths for race drivers and how to become a professional race car driver on four of the main championships.
- Team Canada Scholarship and Team USA Scholarship both announced their drivers that will be participating in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy in the UK this Fall. Team Canada’s drivers are Jake Cowden and Kevin Foster, both 18, who will be contesting the end-of-year FF1600 events with Scottish team Graham Brunton Racing. Team USA are sending three drivers in Elliott Budzinski, 20, William Ferguson, 18, and Thomas Schrage, 17, who will be contesting the same events with UK team Ammonite Motorsport (formerly Low Dempsey Racing).
- Focus Driver Performance looks at how to transition from karts to cars. “Karting gives young drivers the fundamentals of racing and car control but they need to recalibrate those skills when they shift to race cars. There are very big differences when driving these two vehicles, and knowing the differences is half the battle. If you’re into kart racing and want to transition to car racing, we outline the differences between the two and give you a few tips to make the adjustment easier.”
- The Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland will continue to race with ADAC GT Masters in 2023. The organizers made it important to emphasize their support of young drivers. “This year, the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland and the ADAC have also extended their partnership in supporting talented youngsters: the automobile club is new partner of the Talent Pool, the one-make cup’s support initiative for promising young drivers.”
- Formula Racing Academy has been launched to carry on the traditions from the Bertil Roos Racing School. “Bertil Roos Racing School, which was founded by its namesake in 1975, is now closing. However, the same team of instructors, mechanics, office personnel, along with the cars and teachings will live on with the newly formed Formula Racing Academy. With more personalized instruction than offered at other schools, Formula Racing Academy remains focused on the philosophy that the quality of the education is the utmost of importance. All programs remain “arrive and drive” where all you need to bring is a positive attitude.”
- Mazda has expanded the MX-5 Cup prize money to over $1 million USD for 2023. “In all 14 races of the 2023 Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship, a total of $27,000 will be up for grabs amongst the top 10 finishers. Each race win will net $6,000 to go along with the champagne-stained trophy, with $5,000 going to the runner-up, and $4,000 for third. Just like the year-end prizes, the payouts cover the full top 10 finishers, with $3,000 on offer for fourth, $2,000 for fifth and $1,000 going to sixth through 10th place. Additionally, as long as at least two females start the race, the highest placed female driver will receive $2,000. The championship purse will remain unchanged, with $250,000 going to the winner, $80,000 to the Rookie of the Year and payouts continuing through 10th place. Also unchanged are the prizes awarded in the Mazda MX-5 Cup Shootout, where the winner receives a scholarship to compete in the series valued at $110,000, plus two more scholarships valued at $75,000, including one set aside for the top female driver.”
- Shift Up Now has a great blog post that details five keys to improving your mental performance for success in racing. “As racing drivers, physical training is a big part of our weekly preparation to make sure we are in the best possible shape for race day. But the secret to getting the results you want requires just as much time spent on mental preparation as physical. Combining the two creates a recipe for success.”
- Winding Road Magazine kooks at the 10 best auto racing helmets with their updated 2022 buyers guide. “Whether you are road racing, doing a track day, running autocross, driving circle track or participating in High-Performance Driver Education, you need a helmet. But it can be confusing when it comes to actually buying one. There are a lot of choices and sometimes the differences aren’t obvious. To give you some help, we recently reviewed over 50 helmets from Bell, Stilo, Arai, B2, and Zamp. That isn’t every helmet on the market, but it is close.”
- Racing News 365 looks at the ‘crucial’ process of matching an F1 driver to their coach. “For a Formula 1 driver, much of their success is arguably measured by on-track performance. However, a vast amount of preparation for this involves off-track work alongside a performance coach, an individual whose role can prove crucial to a driver’s development.”
- With the recent Singapore Grand Prix just concluded, Charles Leclerc’s trainer discusses the demands of racing in Singapore. Drivers must remain hydrated constantly. “Making the situation even more challenging is the Singapore climate, with very high temperatures and levels of humidity. This compromises thermoregulation, the body’s ability to dissipate heat. The drivers sweat a lot and so lose mineral salts and calcium, essential for muscle function which in turn affects physical performance on track”.
- Sleep is critical for a race driver. Proper sleep means better performance. Throw in the issue of jet lag and it all gets complicated. Here are two articles that discuss both issues.
- Daily Sportscar reports that the first stage of the 2023 FIA Driver Rankings process is live with the current published list now showing 194 drivers who are under review for a variety of reasons. “Whilst some are being reviewed on the basis of racing performance, others are either contract-related (ie those who now are retained as a factory driver), whilst others still are age-related with the regulations specifying that drivers rankings are reduced upon reaching certain ages.”