Cornering plays an important role in deciding the outcome of F1 races. Engine and brakes play crucial role on the straights but on the corners, the driver's skill comes in play. Factors like dirt, wetness and side-on gradients also play a part on cornering.
Concept of traction circle is the fundamental principle of efficient
cornering. The car tyres have longitudinal grip of braking and
acceleration. Expert drivers overlap the different phases of braking,
turning and applying power on the tyres. Drivers try to exploit the
overlap to the best. They make effort to best utilize the traction
circle, meaning they try to make the tyre move as long as possible when
Oversteer and Understeer
Other basic principles of cornering are oversteer and understeer. This
deals with which end of the car runs out of grip first. In oversteer
back end of the car loses adhesion and tries to overtake the front. In
understeer the front end breaks free first and the centrifugal force
makes the car run wide.
Oversteering in Race Cars
Now let us understand one thing. The road cars are understeered while
the race cars re oversteered. Reason. Though understeering is stable, it
slows down a car. On the contrast, oversteer is unstable. If the driver
is novice, it could result in spin. With skilful use of steering and
throttle, the driver can avoid spin. But the racing car is designed to
oversteering. This enables a skilled driver to carry far more speed
through a corner than understeer.
Three Stages of Corners
A corner is approached by a racing car in three stages - turn-in, apex
and exit. Turn-in is arrival of the car into the corner. The apex is the
place where the transition between entry and exit is made. Different
corners may have different natural apexes or individual drivers may also
use different apexes as per their skills. Exit is where the car
straighten outs the corner. The driver blends the throttle back in as
the steering is progressively wound off.
Find out about cornering in Formula 1 car racing here. Learn how to corner your opponent in car racing and emerge victorious.