Formula one is all about straight line speed, isn’t it? No, the car is not a dragster and although the top speed of the car is important with the modern formula one track’s the handling and cornering ability of the car is vital as is the use and management of the tyres and the grip available. Overtaking opportunities are few and far between on a straight’s basis.
The cars reach such high speeds that for safety this manoeuvre has been a bit curtailed. Older circuits like Monza and Spa after the Au Rouge still retain them and the inclusion of Paul Ricard in France this year featured a very long straight but for the most part they have been removed.
With the correct setup, before it was changed, Hockenheim could see cars touching 300 miles per hour before having to brake hard for some chicanes which were particularly dangerous for the drivers. One example of this new generation, of course, is the end of the season finale at the Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi. You could have a ringside seat if you join the Abu Dhabi F1 Paddock Club. How then is the edge over your rivals achieved? The Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was by no means “the best” car as the Ferrari had more power. How then did he win?
Cornering and squeezing out the utmost speed and power out of the car is the realm of a decent driver and can make all the difference in a championship. What creates the greatest Drivers like Senna, Lauda, Stewart or Hamilton is their ability to maintain the pace of the car around some of the most intricate bends.
The purpose of taking a corner is to enter it as fast as possible and exit it with the foot down. At no point in a race should the driver’s foot be off the accelerator. This is an art that while it can be learnt relies on the skill and natural ability of the driver testing them at all times.
No corner in Formula one is the same but the technique to approach them does not change. The entry must be fast and the exit faster. The great drivers know where the braking points are so that they can maintain the speed of the car up to the final minute suing that skill to either overtake or undertake the opponent or defend a line legally without losing a position a skill that is greatly needed at Yas Marina.