Driver Errors

Driver Errors

Part of problem solving for a race driver is recognizing errors. Errors cost time. Even the best drivers commit errors on any given lap. The reason they are good is two fold: their errors are very small and they rapidly correct. Therefore the least amount of time is lost.

One of the most common errors occurs at the corner turn in zone. If turn in occurs to early, the exit will either be wide or slow; both cost time. The question is how much time? The first factor is to recognize the error. The sooner it is acknowledged, the sooner the correction can take place. If the error is not recognized until the exit zone, it is too late to correct.

But if the error is recognized just after turn in, you can make a correction to speed and or vehicle path allowing nearly maximum cornering speed and early acceleration, as if no error were made. Handled in this fashion, it is virtually impossible for anyone other than the driver to detect the error.

To minimize the effects of errors, experience and self-education are required. Making errors is not the issue; it happens to everyone. By developing driving skills, and creating the right mental attitude, you keep errors small and recognize them quickly, minimizing their effect. Errors are neither good nor bad; they simply exist. Spend attention to minimize the effect of the error, not to self-criticize.

It is appropriate to learn from the error in order to minimize its effects when the error occurs later. Time spent of self-criticism not only diverts attention to the wrong area, but also exacerbates the error into a larger, more costly one.

When you commit an error, it is important to store the data so you can correct the error more quickly on the next occurrence. In many racing situations, time is not available to evaluate errors on the track. It is important that you store the information for evaluation and planning after the session on the track. Note specific references to each error, along with a plan to correct the error, or recognize it earlier and take action to minimize it’s effect.

Every time you commit an error, you also create an opportunity to learn from that error. If you learn from errors, you are learning to go faster. In most cases you learn that the scenario created by the error costs time on the track. Sometimes, you may learn that the unintended scenario is actually faster.

Additionally, you have learned a new approach, which could be used in circumstances requiring a different method, such as a passing situation, a defensive move, or evasion of a hazardous situation. No matter what is learned from the error, that knowledge will become useful to you sooner or later.

Visual fields:

Paramount to success on the racetrack is your ability to place the racecar in the most desirable location. Determining where to place the car is an issue we will cover under the specific track guides as each track differs. Here we must determine how to place the car. Ideal car positioning requires that you see effectively (utilize visual fields) and operate the controls to their best advantage (maximize driver outputs). You must learn how and what to see. Your operation of car controls must be precise, smooth, and quick.

Visual fields are both the entire range of vision at any instant, and the primary focal point within that range. You must understand clearly the important areas requiring visual attention. To haphazardly take in visual data is to assure lost time, reduced performance, and increased risk.

Factors requiring visual data are:

» Monitoring vehicle speed

» Planning vehicle paths

» Developing tactics

» Monitoring track conditions

» Planning race strategies

» Handling traffic situations

» Monitoring distances between other cars (F2)

» Assessing hazards

» Keeping an eye on the gauges

» Watching your mirrors

» Listening to your spotter

At various times, each of these items moves to the top of the priority list. Careful planning will allow you to rapidly shift visual attention from one priority to another while still maintaining some attention on all priorities.

Where to look:

The most important concept of visual fields is where to look. Most drivers, especially new drivers, look in the wrong place, usually too close to the front of the car. Large fields of vision allow more input of data. In some cases, the place to look is obvious. But where is the best place to look when monitoring speed or planning vehicle paths?

There are two rules of thumb:

1. Always look where you want to go.

2. Look ahead as far as possible, often even farther ahead than you can actually see (anticipate).

Large visual fields help you see how you are doing relative to the cornering path plan. Various spots on the track, known as Visual Reference Points (VRP’s), trigger action as you approach them, and let you check on progress. The more accurate the VRP, the more quickly you can respond to output errors, making quick corrections. This minimizes the cost of the error and allows you to judge the effectiveness of the plan and make changes based on new data.

The best place to look depends upon the circumstance. The visual priority most often at the top of the list is planning cornering paths. You must attempt to find the optimum turn in point as early as possible in order to monitor speed immediately and plan a reduction of speed so that corner entry velocity is the highest possible without exceeding the limits of traction through the corner.

When racing online you can achieve the broadest range of visual fields by setting your options to the max. Setting the options to full fields drawn ahead & turning on as many graphics as your computer will allow without suffering from frame rate loss will help you become a better racer.

I run will all graphics on, and I suggest you do also (if your PC is powerful enough). The use of grandstands and objects will help you establish VRP’s especially on road courses. I also run with smoke effects switched on. This option helps determine trouble up ahead well before I get there and allows me to anticipate a possible wreck that may occur.

When to look:

In addition to planning where to look, you must plan when to look to a certain area. Looking at your gauges in the middle of a turn is asking for trouble. Let’s look at a list of visual priorities:

1. Any time a corner is being approached, the overriding priority is monitoring vehicle speed and planning vehicle path.

2. When dealing with traffic, passing or being passed, defending or attacking for position, all other priorities except #1 are secondary.

3. Monitoring caution lights takes priority except when #1 & 2 apply.

4. All other visual priorities, checking gauges, pit signals, etc., are only considerations when #1, 2, & 3 above are not important.

Many elements of when to change visual fields should be obvious. Under the stress of competition, it is easy to lose sight of important priorities. Pre-planning how best to use visual fields will insure that you do so in the heat of battle.

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