When To Sacrifice And When Not To In Complex Corners

A question our coaches often get asked at Racers360 is, “How do I know if I need to sacrifice in this corner to set up for the next or not?”  It comes as second nature to pro drivers but for many, it seems like wizardry how drivers just intuitively know how to do this. Here we will explain how pro drivers approach these types of corners and give you the tools you need to be able to do this yourself!

In this article and video, we used turns 6 - 9 at Circuit of the Americas.  But this is a technique that can be applied on almost every race track we race on!

The first thing drivers need to do to understand if we need to sacrifice or not in these sections, is to form a priority list.  After a few laps on the race track, I start to ask myself a few questions to help me figure out what my priorities are. The first question is the following:

Which part of this corner will allow me to be faster for a longer period of time?  Does the last corner of this section lead onto a straightaway?

So, using turns 6 - 9 at Circuit of the Americas as our example we can answer this question in the following way:

Getting a good exit out of turn 9 will allow me to be faster for the longest period of time.  So, that is my #1 priority. The last corner in this section does lead onto a straight so I may need to sacrifice to set up for this.  The green line in the photo below represents this section.

turn 9 exit at Circuit of the Americas

What makes this section a little more challenging is that there is a smaller section within the larger section.  You can ask yourself the same question for turns 6 and 7, and then 7 and 8. Here the answers are slightly different, turn 7 doesn’t lead onto a long straightaway so it may be a little more difficult to pick our priority.  So, I leave this as TBD for right now and work backward and focusing on the priority of turn 9.

Now that we have our priority (exit of turn 9) the next step is to experiment, something we are big advocates for at Racers360.  There are two ways to take turn 8.

  1. Sacrifice turn 7 entry speed and keep the car left to open up the radius of turn 8.
  2. Focus on rolling a lot of speed through turn 7 and not really setting the car back to the left before turning in for 8.

Our goal here is to maximize our turn 9 without over slowing turn 8.  So, we want to see if sacrificing turn 7 helps us enough through turn 8 to make up for the lost time sacrificing costs through turn 7.  

turn 7 and 8 at COTA

You can see in this image we show the length of distance each option will allow a driver to be faster for.

After 2 laps this answer will be clear, to keep it left out of 7 we have to significantly reduce speed and there is no real advantage through turn 8 by doing that.  In fact, it is slower to open up to the left in turn 8 because we arrive slower and are out on the marbles and the dirty section of the race track.

If you want to see our Circuit of The Americas full length track breakdown click here

The last part of this section is figuring out if we want to sacrifice any speed out of 6 to set up to the right for turn 7 or not.  It is the same process as when we were figuring out if we want to sacrifice turn 7 for turn 8, we need to experiment.

turn 6 and 7 at COTA

Again in this photo, we highlight the length of each section.  The difference of distance here is a little closer than the other options, so our decision may be slightly more difficult to figure out here.

We try one lap letting the car be free all the way to the left and see how far back to the right we can get and how much the inside line effects us through turn 7.  We then slow the car down a little bit more out of turn 6 to keep it right for turn 7 and see where that gets us. The question we are trying to answer again is, “Which one will allow me to be faster for the longer period of time?”

What you will quickly see is setting the car up to the right for turn 7 allows us to be significantly faster from the turn in point of 7 all the way through the entry of 8.  Sacrificing out of 6 does not make a significant impact on speed so we will lose a little bit of time out of 6 through the turn in point of 7. That is a shorter amount of time and the gap of speed we gain by not sacrificing out of 6 is not a large amount.  

The next step of this process would be to see how much speed you can roll out of 6 and how far left you can let the car go before not being able to execute on your turn 7.  I start out conservative and slowly start to build speed and let the car go a little bit more left out of 6 each lap until I can get back to the right before turn in at 7. Then I know where the right limit is and I bring my speed slightly down to bring it back to the point that carries the most speed out of 6 while still allowing me to get back to the right for turn 7.

Breaking these sections up into a list of priorities and just asking yourself what is my number one priority?  Working backward and along the way adding to your priority list is the easiest way to breakdown the approach to these corners.

We would love to hear from you guys on which track has the most complex section of corners like this?  Just leave a comment below!