September 21, 2013

Speed Secret Saturday: Debriefing.

Sebastian Vettel and "Rocky" Rocquelin

Communicating with your race engineers (even if that engineer is yourself) is crucial and this week Ross Bentley has a handy, prioritized list of for you to follow.

Handling Debrief Process

Alonso and Andrea Stella
Whether you have a team of engineers working on your car, or you discuss your car's handling problems while looking in a mirror each and every time you come off the track, you should consider what setup changes you could make to your car.

Of course, your answer may be, "Nothing," since you may have decided (smartly) that you're not going to make changes to your car until you know for sure that you've gotten most everything out of your own driving.
Still, I think a good habit to get into at the end of each on-track session is to ask yourself, "If I could make the car do one thing better, what would it be?"
Kimi debriefing
In doing so, you may uncover a driving issue or technique you want to improve before making changes to your car, but you might also discover a critical handling issue.

Having asked yourself that one all-important question, I then recommend the following process for debriefing on your car's handling (again, you can use this to debrief with yourself if you're your own "engineer").

Ask yourself these questions, in this order:

  1. What is the car doing? Understeer, oversteer or neutral?
  2. Where is the car doing it? Which turn(s)?
  3. Where in the turn(s)? Entry, mid or exit?
  4. What am I doing when the car does this?
  5. Braking? 
  6. Trail braking? 
  7. Releasing brakes? 
  8. Coasting? 
  9. Maintenance throttle? 
  10. On power? 
  11. Slowly turning steering wheel? 
  12. Crisply turning steering wheel? 
  13. Steady steering? 
  14. Unwinding the steering wheel?
  15. Is it the car or me? Am I inducing the handling problem, or is it the car?

If you follow the process of asking these questions, in this order, I'll guarantee you'll learn something that'll make you and your car faster. If you answer these questions honestly, digging deep for the answers, what to do setup-wise (or with your driving technique) will become obvious.

Ross Bentley
For more of Ross' writing, along with articles by other famous and not-so-famous contributors, go to He can be reached at

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the laugh, I busted out laughing @ Kimi's debriefing. Well done!!


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