Article posted Thu Mar 09 2023

Racing: Finding the Apex, and Vehicle Speed

In the world of motorsports, every fraction of a second counts, and optimizing vehicle speed through corners is essential to achieving fast track times. To do this, drivers must understand the concept of the apex and the role of driving lines in cornering.

The apex refers to the point in a turn where the vehicle is closest to the inside edge of the track. This point is crucial because it allows the driver to take the most efficient line through the corner, thereby maximizing speed and reducing the distance traveled. To achieve this, drivers utilize driving lines, which are the optimal path through a turn that allows for the fastest possible speed. The driving line is determined by the shape of the corner, the vehicle's characteristics, and the driver's technique.

There are three main types of driving lines: early apex, late apex, and double apex. The early apex line involves turning into the corner earlier than usual, which results in a tighter turn radius and quicker acceleration out of the corner. The late apex line involves turning into the corner later, which results in a wider turn radius but allows for higher speeds coming out of the corner. The double apex line involves two apexes and is used for particularly tight turns. By mastering driving lines and hitting the apex, drivers can significantly reduce lap times. For instance, a gain of 0.1 seconds in a single corner may not seem like much, but it can result in a gain of several seconds over an entire race.

Another way to optimize speed through corners is by managing the weight transfer of the vehicle. When a vehicle enters a turn, weight shifts to the outside wheels, reducing the grip on the inside wheels. Drivers can counteract this by braking before the turn, shifting weight to the front of the vehicle, and then accelerating out of the corner, transferring weight to the rear of the vehicle.

Optimizing vehicle speed through corners is a crucial aspect of motorsports. It's important to also remember that other factors that can impact cornering include tire pressure, tire temperature, and suspension settings. Fine-tuning these variables can lead to significant improvements in lap times.

By understanding the apex, driving lines, weight transfer, and other factors that affect cornering, drivers can shave precious seconds off their lap times and gain a competitive edge on the track.