THE INSIDER’S GUIDE
The most dangerous part of the race has to be turn 1 on lap 1. With all the drivers being so closely packed together, it is one of those times where if you get things very right with a dose of luck, you can see yourself gain multiple positions in the first few corners or over the course of the first lap. On the flip side to that, it is very easy to lose a lot of positions or damage your car which subsequently leads to you losing places and generally it is this side of the fence that is seen most frequently. There’s a reason for the age-old saying in Motor Racing; “The race can’t be won in the first corner, but it can certainly be lost!”
So this week’s Insider’s Guide episode, we’re going to be looking at the mentality to adopt for Turn 1 and the first lap, and some little tips and tricks for increasing your chances of coming out unscathed.
For the mentality side of the first lap, the nature of the circuit and your starting position are generally going to dictate your mentality and approach, but ultimately it should be about survival. The closer you are to the front, the slightly more aggressive you can afford to be coming into the braking zone for the first corner. The further back you are, the more passive and patient you will need to be.
You will need to be dynamic with your approach when trying to gain places and defending from other cars, remaining calculated with the risk of going for an overtaking or defensive move and whether performing such action is worth doing so. After all, this is the first lap, you’ll have more opportunities for overtaking or regaining a lost place later in the race.
As the first lap progresses and the field starts to spread out a little more, you can start to be a bit more aggressive and apply pressure to other cars. The more cars around you and the closer they are, the greater the chances of you being caught up in an incident which could take you out of the running for the lead. So having that space around you will help you to keep options open if things start to look like they’re going south. You won’t always have that luxury, but generally if you don’t see a clear way past, it is best to just settle in, pick up your rhythm and begin pushing later.
Coming back to the first corner and techniques and things you can do to increase your chances of survival can include the following:
- Fake braking early: Approaching the braking zone of the first turn, lightly apply the brakes whilst still accelerating to flash up the brake lights for the cars behind. People tend to judge turn 1 by the brake lights of the cars ahead, not their usual braking point. If you flash them up early, drivers will hopefully react and start braking earlier themselves, minimizing the risk of you being rear-ended.
- Nailing the braking: Coming off the back of the first point, make sure you hit your braking point for turn 1. Too many people brake late and run deep. If you hit the braking point and make the corner, chances are you’re going to come out of it scratch free (dependent on those around you of course).
- Pick a lane and stay in it: On the approach to the braking zone, 50-30 metres before it, you need to commit to a lane that you’re taking through turn 1 or first sequence of turns. Once you’ve picked one, stay in it all the way through the turn or sequence of turns. Moving around a lot, and changing lanes under braking causes other drivers to panic and move, increasing the chances of drivers making contact. In the case of chicanes, you may have the inside for the first part but stay on the outside for the second, or vice-versa. Don’t cut back across to the racing line unless you 100% know you’re fully clear to do so.
- Keep an eye on your mirrors: Use the situational awareness tools and features in-game to give you a better understanding of what other drivers are doing around you. Contrary to the previous point, if you’ve seen the driver behind miss their braking point and come barrelling towards you, shift and change to another lane IF there is space. This is something you’ll need to be prepared to do particularly in low-level public lobbies where rookies like to dive bomb or purposefully hit other drivers.
The first corners in a public lobby can feel like a bit of a lottery, but as described above there are techniques you can use to try and minimize the risk of making contact with someone else or someone hitting you. There is still power in your hands to avoid getting hit from behind, and in some scenarios, you’ll need to sacrifice a corner and get out the way of someone diving down the inside or outside in a desperate attempt to gain places. Sure you may lose a position or two, but that with a car intact is much better than you in the gravel facing the wrong way, with damage suspension and a bumper hanging off.
So having read about the techniques and mentality, it’s time to take a seat and watch Yorkie065 demonstrate them on track, and show you the correct way to stay out of trouble and gain places on the first lap.