THE INSIDER’S GUIDE

You may consider yourself a fast driver, but there are always going to be others out there who are quicker than you. So here comes the question: When a faster driver comes up behind you, what do you do? Your choices at that point boil down to these:

A: Defend like madman and prevent them from getting past
B: Let them through and use them to help close on the pack ahead

This week, the Insider’s Guide to Project CARS 2 is all about being smart and picking your battles.

A lot of drivers will have answered the above question with A. And while there are many instances when this is, indeed, your best course of action, there are also instances when A is actually going to hurt you.

As with most things in life, your decision should really be based around context. Depending on the race situation, it can, for instance, be beneficial to go with answer B. Why? Because allowing the faster driver through in the early stages can work in your favour. On the other hand, if it’s in the dying laps of the race, or you’re at the front of the pack, then defending is always the right strategy no matter what.

Going back to answer B for a moment, you are probably asking yourself, how is it advantageous to let anyone through?

To begin with, having a faster driver in front allows you to use them as reference. You can observe and follow their lines and braking points, and use their speed to your advantage by picking up their slipstream on the straights to help improve lap times. Also, letting them past without a fight will mean that you lose precious little time; racing is full of lost positions from two or more squabbling cars that allow other cars to enter the fray as the faster cars battle for position. For instance, if you’re well up the finishing order, and a few seconds ahead of the chasing pack, and one faster car comes up behind you, slowing him down by going defensive will only allow the pack to close on both of you. If the chasing car is faster, let him go; losing one position is okay, defending and then losing more than one position is bad strategy.

Moreover, you can also use the faster driver’s pace to your advantage to help close up on the drivers or pack in front to potentially gain back the position you lost, and potentially gain more later in the race. After all, there may be a driver up ahead who will want to defend position, and it will now be you who will close in not only on the faster driver, but also the defending driver, and you could well inherit more than you think.

If, on the other hand, you’re the faster driver trying to work through the field, pick your moments to overtake. Diving for an overtake on every corner from 3 or 4 car lengths back is not a safe or effective way to pass, as you’ll likely have the door slammed shut in your face, increasing the chance of contact and suffering damage which will hamper your car’s performance, and also slow you down as the car ahead begins to slow you down as it begins to defend every corner.

It’s therefore best to wait until a good corner to overtake in, one with a heavy braking zone ideally at the end of a straight, and with you being within a car length of the car you’re trying to pass.

Plan your move and set yourself up for the overtake a few corners beforehand; watch where the car in front is slower, get yourself in the best possible position to make the move as cleanly and as safely as possible, and then execute. Don’t risk going side-by-side through multiple corners as it will cost you time in the long run, making it harder to catch any remaining cars in front, or potentially be caught from behind.

Understanding who has the right to a corner, and who can assert dominance through car positioning when alongside, greatly helps with this. Sometimes it is better to back out of a move and be patient for the next opportunity than to force a gap when there isn’t one.

This is best explained below with Car A being the car in front (defending) and Car B being the car behind (attacking)

  • Car B has moved up slightly alongside Car A, but only has their (Car B) front bumper / wing alongside the rear bumper / wing of Car A. At this point, Car A has dominance over Car B. If Car A wishes to do so, they can shut the door on Car B and doesn’t have to give racing room. Car B should be prepared to back out of the move if they sense there could be contact.
  • Car B has moved further up alongside Car A and now has their front wheels alongside the rear wheels of Car A. This is a significant overlap, at which point Car B has earned the right to the corner, so both cars need to give each other racing room. However, Car A does still have some level of dominance. Car A trying to squeeze Car B here is very risky, but this can be successful if Car A is confident and trusts Car B to back out of the manoeuvre.
  • Car B is alongside Car A with neither car ahead of the other. This is obviously 50/50 so both cars need to continue to give racing room.
  • Car B is alongside but has now pulled in front slightly to have their rear wheels alongside the front wheels of Car A. This is effectively the reverse of earlier where Car B now has dominance over Car A: racing room should, however, still be given.
  • Car B has pulled up in front but there is still a minor overlap with Car B’s rear bumper / wing now being level with Car A’s front bumper / wing. Car B now has full dominance over Car A, and Car A should be prepared to pull in behind Car B if they get squeezed.

Judging this can be difficult. It can happen with a split second, and it can happen throughout a long corner or series of corners. Not everyone has the visibility to see out of their car effectively, as there are always blind spots, so when in doubt, give the other car racing room unless you know for sure that the cars are clear with no overlap.

Racing smart and thinking about strategy when approaching other drivers greatly improves your race craft and racing experience. People trust you more, and it helps to keep yourself level headed to see the bigger picture and, in some instances, it can pay off big time with potentially helping you close the gap on the drivers ahead who you were previously struggling to catch.

Now sit back and watch as @Yorkie065 explains why thinking smart is driving fast.

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