How To Late Brake.

Posted on June 6, 2014

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How To Late Brake Part 1
Because you didn’t go out there to follow.

By: Rob Oakman

Raikkonen and Grosjean at the Korean Grand Prix. (Courtesy of www.xpbimages.com, Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images)

Raikkonen and Grosjean at the Korean Grand Prix.
(Courtesy of www.xpbimages.com, Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images)

There are many ways to make a pass in a corner and make it stick, but for the sake of simplicity this series of articles will run through the most likely ones you will use in your run to the lead starting with your bread and butter: Late Braking.

Late Breaking is exactly what it sounds like: you brake later than the person you are trying to pass. If you brake too early you won’t get past them, too late and you will slide wide and get re-passed or end up on you noggin – all being equally undesirable. The way you judge when and where to brake depends mostly on you. There are two ways to do this successfully and one that may get it done but is absolutely wrong.

1: Pick a point on the track.
Where you choose your braking, turn-in, apex, acceleration point, turn-out etc… can be done by picking something on the track to use as a Visual Reference. This can be a crack in the asphalt, a tire mark, a plant, a tree in the distance as it crosses a fence, a paint line, anything that is going to be there lap after lap– so not a bug or a corner marshal (although their station will work just fine). If it is close to the track or on it, you have to get used to seeing it in your peripheral vision because you want to be looking ahead of you. Otherwise you may find yourself running into things you didn’t see because you were staring at a crack in the outside curbing. The point is that you can use a visual reference for your braking point when trying to out-brake another driver.

Because we are not going 100% all the time, we leave a bit of a margin when we choose a braking point anyway. When you are a lane lower entering a corner, you would normally brake a bit sooner because you have made the corner tighter. But if you are inside another racer and you want to out-brake them you can use your original braking point then add a margin to it– say another tire length or two. You will be braking later than the other driver but still using the track as a reference instead of the other car. If the other car will be blocking your reference point then you have to choose another one because it is no good if you can’t see it. By using the original braking point plus a margin you are reasonably sure you can make the corner without washing out or wrecking.

When passing use the reference for your later braking point and keep track the other car’s position relative to you in your peripheral vision. This will allow you to judge if you need to adjust your brake pressure or line in order to avoid contact. Just remember to use a reference that you can see when you are completing a pass and not something that will be blocked.

Getting it done. (Courtesy of http://www.motorauthority.com)

Getting it done.
(Courtesy of http://www.motorauthority.com)

2: Judge Distances.

Some of us (including me) judge all of our points on the track by judging the distances between us and them. That is to say that instead of picking a specific point on the track, we sort of use the ‘Force’ to decide when we brake, turn in, etc… This is actually pretty common, though if you are a reference racer this may seem pretty alien to you. The beauty of this type of judgement is that you can push harder into the corner than if you are using a reference because you are judging the speed and corner by what you see ahead of you instead of by a fixed point you have to pass. This means you are looking further ahead at any given time– if you are a reference racer don’t worry, you will do just fine and you don’t have to try and change. Both of these techniques have been used by Champions in all forms of racing. Reference is also a more consistent way of driving when you are new and inexperienced.

The trick here is to brake when you feel you have carried all the speed you can into the corner. You track the other car in your peripheral vision just like when using a reference and adjust your braking and line through the entry to the apex so as to avoid contact. Then get to the throttle as soon as possible and go! go! go!

3: Watching the other car
This technique is the domain of the amateur but unfortunately it will often work. Let me be clear though that this is ‘NOT’ how to do this. I am only explaining this so that you will understand why this isn’t right and will add you to the ranks of the Wally.

If, as you enter the braking zone, you wait for the other driver to brake first you have done two things:
1. You have successfully out braked the other driver which is good and
2. You have given up control of your car to someone else which is bad.

What if that other driver was waiting for you to brake as well? Seriously. I have seen this happen. Two drivers go into a braking zone side by side. They go in too far, suddenly lock up much too late to slow down and neatly drive off the track together. By waiting for the other driver to brake first you have completely ignored the racetrack ahead of you and are no longer controlling your car. You are entirely reliant on the other driver to decide when you brake. This is bad form and not how to do this. The problem is that of course this can be successful and too many drivers out there rely on this technique. I’m talking professionals here. Don’t do it!

If you have made it this far I am going to let you in on a secret. Most of the time I have been racing and had another driver try to defend their position when I am passing them. I have gotten to the brakes first and I have still made the pass. The reason is simple– I was racing the track while they were racing me. I made the corner just fine while they ended up out braking themselves. The best passers I have ever seen in any series, be it on television, live, or people I have raced against myself, have ALL raced the track and not the other drivers.

So when it comes to Late Braking either learn to pick a visual reference or learn to embrace the ‘Force’ and judge by distances. Both ways will get you by your opponents successfully more often than not. Defending against late braking will be the subject of another article.

In Part 2 I will dissect the Late Braking pass from set-up to turn out.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to send them along below and follow OakmanOnRacing.

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Posted in: How to Race