How to Find the Fastest Racing Line

As a racing driver, you’ve undoubtedly heard discussions about “the fastest racing line.”

You might ask your fellow drivers, “What line are you taking through turn 3?”

During track walks, you might have invested significant effort in determining the best trajectory for each corner, seeking references and marker points to create a “dot to dot” of the line you believe is the best.

But is it really the best line? What is the fastest racing line, and how can you find it?

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This question came up during the Q&A of the AiM Cookbook workshop. You read below or find my answer below (in less than a minute.)

How to find the fastest racing line on a race track

Being on the Limit

Your primary goal as a driver is to be on the limit, regardless of the line you take.

Driving on the limit on the “wrong line” will invariably be quicker than being on “the right line” but not pushing your car to its full potential.

But once you are on the limit, how can you determine if you are taking the fastest racing line?

Classic Approaches to the Racing Line

There are many classic bits of advice for finding the best line, such as “using all the track” or using a late apex on a hairpin.

These tips can be helpful, but they don’t always consider the unique characteristics of your car and tyres.

These can significantly influence what is the “ideal” nee “fastest” for your unique setup.

Using Data Logging to Find the Fastest Racing Line

Personally, I switch to data logging at this point.

Data is an invaluable tool for finding the fastest racing line because it makes comparisons much more accurate.

Of course, driver feel is important but so often I find the fastest line doesn’t feel fast.

By analysing your acceleration traces, you can determine how close you are to the limit.

Additionally, the delta-t channel can help you compare different lines and identify which one is faster.

Experimenting with Different Lines

To get the most out of data logging, try deliberately experiment with the lines you take.

The best drivers, and those I coach, dedicate at least one session to trying different approaches to key corners.

Analysing the data can reveal unintuitive results, especially when dealing with complex corners or short straights before or after a corner.

The message here: Don’t be afraid to deliberately deviate from the “ideal” racing line in the quest to learn.

Extra Benefits of Knowing Alternative Lines

How often have you found yourself going for an overtake and realising you’ve never driven the corner that way?

Just at the moment you need to be more assertive, you’re likely to be hesitant.

By practising alternative lines you also get to learn what the car can do in situations where you might find yourself off the ideal line, such as when defending or overtaking.

If you’ve practiced alternative lines, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect and how to adapt your driving so you lose the minimum time.

And another useful thing is that corners are similar on different tracks.

Once you’ve found the “ideal” line on one track, you should have a head start if you go to a new track with a similar corner.

In your driver feedback keep notes of what you tried, what worked and what didn’t so you are always building your database of the best way to approach different corner types.

Conclusion

The fastest racing line is not always the one that follows the classic “rules” of racing.

Quite often, fastest doesn’t feel fastest. Nor does it feel “right.”

But honestly, we don’t really care about that – we just want to go faster!

By using data logging, experimenting with different trajectories, and analysing the results, you can objectively determine the fastest line for your specific car and driving style.

Embrace the challenge of finding the fastest racing line through deliberate experimentation.

In my experience it is the fastest and most robust way to improve your lap times and becoming a better driver.

 

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