Passing Part 4: How To Set People Up

Posted on May 28, 2015


 Passing Part 4

How To Set People Up


Racing is a game of deception.

Passing isn’t easy. Some racers know how to run hard into a corner to keep a late breaking move from working. Others will start running a tight line from the first corner of the first lap (we all hate them). Sometimes the two of you are so closely matched that finding an advantage seems almost impossible. Rage won’t get you past. You have to use skill. Here are some options on how to get it done.

The view you want to change. (Courtesy of

The view you want to change.
(Courtesy of

Find a Weakness

Look ahead of you as you are catching a racer, or just as you follow, and judge where they are particularly weak. It could be under breaking, or through the center of a corner, or on a straight. Whatever their weakness is, you need to find it and get ready to use it.

Plan Ahead

When you find a weakness, prepare to exploit it. Whether you have seconds or laps, always make a plan for when and where you are going to make a pass.

Know What is Coming

Part of planning is looking passed your immediate opponent. Look for lapped traffic, yellow flags, debris, and anything that may help or hinder your progress.

Know Who You are Passing

Some drivers will try to chop you down even if it may wreck them and you both. Racers are smart enough to put pressure on you without making contact. They way you tell the difference is by experience and looking ahead.

All of the people on track are not friends and enemies. They are numbers; competition with a set of skills and predictable behaviours. Watch people around you in practice and during the race. You can learn so much by simply paying attention to people’s behaviour on track.

If you are approaching a driver that might endanger your race, make your pass decisive and do all you can to keep them behind you. Be up on your wheel in case they get into you so that if contact happens, you have a chance at minimising the damage to your machine and your race.

If you are approaching a racer then you know that you have to use skill to get by, but as long as you make a good clean move the position will be yours.

Hide Your Weakness(es)

When you are shadowing another racer they will know where they don’t need to defend if you show where you are slow. Try not to show your nose and play mirror games when you are losing ground. It calls attention to the fact you are falling back. Stay in line everywhere until you are ready to make a move.

There is a time for mirror games but that comes later.

Vettel and Hamilton stalking Rosberg at Monaco. (Courtesy of

Vettel and Hamilton stalking Rosberg at Monaco.
(Courtesy of

Hide Your Strengths

Just like above, if they know where you are fast they can defend there. If you are not ready to make a move, stay in line and wait. Leave them guessing as to where and when your move is coming.

Get ’em Moving

If you plan on passing inside then show a bit of nose outside, and vice versa. The idea is that a driver looking in their mirror will unconsciously or purposely move in the same direction. Once they are moving in the wrong direction they should open space for you to fill it.

You can abuse mirror games though. If you get someone looking here and there you can worry them into a mistake, but you can also get them running defensive which slows you both down. Whenever possible keep the race down to just you and one other racer. This isn’t always possible, I know, but when it is, keep it that way.

Set ’em Up

If you are planning to make a late race pass, have picked your spot, and are counting down the laps before you make a move then you are in a great position to make them think you are going to pass somewhere else. Occasionally show your nose in a different corner to put it in the other racer’s head that you intend to pass there. They will think you are strong there and expect you to be weak elsewhere. When you make your move it will be a surprise and make it more likely that you to succeed.

Make ’em Worry

My favorite move was to sit in second for the entire race and not show my nose once. The racer ahead knew a pass attempt would come but they would never know when or where. And as the laps wound down the leader would pay more and more attention to me and less and less to the track ahead. One of two things always happened. Either they would make a mistake and open the door for me to make an easy pass, or they would get comfortable and be so surprised when and where I did make a move that they couldn’t contest it until it was too late.

Montoya breaking out of line with Scott Dixon leading at Indy (Courtesy of

Montoya breaking out of line with Scott Dixon leading at Indy
(Courtesy of

Break Rhythm

When you get tucked up under the machine ahead it’s easy to start mirroring their lines. You will never be able to get a run that way because you are now running the same lap times as they are. Start changing up your braking points, apexes, and acceleration points to break the rhythm between you two to create opportunities where you can get a run.

Make Space

In order to break rhythm, and to get a basic run, you need space. If you are up under someone’s bumper you are at the mercy of their breaking and acceleration points. They can hold off on the accelerator through the apex forcing you to wait. When they do get on it you are slowing down to avoid contact and they have created space for themselves as they run into the next corner. This is called short breaking. Back off just enough so that you can close on the racer ahead without losing any drafting help you are getting on the straight, and time it so you catch them where you want to make the pass.

Wide Entry with a Late Apex

If you find yourself needing to stay relatively close to the racer ahead then start using a wide entry with a late apex. The wider you run the more track you use so you can carry more speed through the corner without worring about running into the machine ahead. Add to this the late apex and you will have a straighter run onto the straightaway and more speed by the end for a late brake pass.

The wider entry could be anywhere from half a width off your normal line to as much track as you can use without running into the marbles or any bumps in the track.

Link Corners

If you have created space for yourself, and have broken the rhythm, then you can start using the late entry and apex through a series of corners to close and get a run for your pass. This has the added bonus/curse of getting the attention of the racer ahead of you. It is a bonus because they are watching you instead of the track ahead of them, but a curse because they may be able to guess where you are going to pass.

If you are linking corners then you will likely have to get ’em moving in the wrong direction early so you can make the pass where and when you want to.

Move Decisively and Carefully

When you make your move, make it with confidence. Don’t be bullied. Make your move like you have already made the pass and be up on the wheel just in case. Hold your ground as much as you can without making contact.

Be Ready for Anything

No matter how much you do right, something can always go wrong. You make a mistake on the brakes, hit unseen debris on the track, or the racer you are passing makes an unexpected move — and a million other things can happen. Obviously you can’t predict what will happen so just do your best to be ready for what might.


Everything that happens on track should be a lesson. Whether it is a success or not. Always be learning from what happens and apply that experience into the future.

Remember to have fun out there and thanks for reading.
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Posted in: How to Race