Ask the Driver ~ Cutting Chicanes

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Ask the Driver

In the first installment of Ask the Driver, our Sr. Contributing Editor and Professional Driver Paul Charsley answers the interesting question: Cutting chicanes at the start i.e. Spa Francorchamps 2009.

The Question:

[I]…don’t think we should regard the Lewis-cutting-the-chicane-incident last year in the same way we are for the start in 2009. I think FIA should allow more forgiveness on the starts (remember Alonso at Singapore???) since I always thought as a given that starts are about improvisation where overtaking-in-one-on-one situations are about preparation. Would love to know what our Pro Driver thinks about this silly theory. ~ Entropy

The Answer:

It is very true that passing at the start of races is about improvisation, but also, it is still equally about preparation.

I’ve never been a great qualifier, but I have also never worried too much about it either (this is not a great asset) if I’m a couple of rows back from the front I feel I can make that up easily in those first 2 laps. What I always do is study the first few corners while I am out there in practice and look for alternate paths that would not hurt the car, this could be low kerbing (spa) compact dirt off the track run off area (spa) etc. It is a good idea to test these paths during practice just to make sure there are no surprises.

Also there are usually other races going on during a weekend, and as long as you’re not the first race I would watch how the whole start evolves, see where most people tend to run. It’s not unheard of for a line of cars to line up nose to tail on the racing line and someone pass them all on the other side of the track, it makes you feel like a King I tell you. You also see during warm up laps everyone weaving about to warm up tyres, that’s great and all, but I make bloody sure my brakes are up to temp because if you’re confident with the brakes you can stuff the car into all kinds of places.

I’m sure Kimi had that move planned in his head, knowing where he was on the grid and that Kers would give him a leap of speed down to La source he stayed wide and straightened the wheel pretty early, no point in half doing it!

If you plan these different scenarios beforehand you can really make the most of them when they come up.

I applaud the move and if he gets away with it, and it wasn’t mentioned in the rules you’ve got to go for it.

I’m getting a little long winded, but passing is my favourite thing and something I feel is one of my strong points, probably through necessity and because it’s a lot of fun!

So yes the Kimi and Lewis moves are different but maybe one is just as calculated as the other.

Passing a car that has only to concentrate on you is another matter, and maybe we can touch on that another time if anyone would want me to.

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