Goodbye, Lead Foot: Practicing Your Throttle Control

Assetto Corsa Tatuus FA010 Monza.jpg
Electronic driver aids are nothing new in racing and are very much present in sim racing as well. Many modern racing cars have ABS or traction control at their disposal, almost eliminating the possibilitly of locking up under braking or spinning out under acceleration. Still, it pays off not to drive with a lead foot - practicing your throttle control is highly useful even with electronic gizmos lending a helping hand.

The 1980s and early 1990s were truly revolutionary in racing, especially regarding the rise of computers and their integration into racing cars. Formula 1 took this to the extreme by 1993, with the Williams FW15C being considered one of the most technologically-advanced racing vehicles to this day. It featured traction control, ABS, active suspension, drive-by-wire controls, and more. Williams even tested a so-called continuously variable transmission, which would keep the engine in its optimum rev range at all times, eliminating the need ot shift gears.

For 1994, all these helpers were banned, and even though traction control made a comeback between 2001 and 2007, electronic driver aids have been illegal in F1 ever since, with the exception of power steering. Other classes have adopted both ABS and traction control over the years, however, and they are especially present in GT cars, which are designed with the systems in mind.

Maximizing Exit Speeds​

The focus in this article is on TC: Even though it may save you from spinning when planting the throttle under acceleration, it can still cost you some time if it actually has to intervene - hence the advantage of good throttle control even in cars that use TC. True to the "slow in, fast out" mantra, exit speed is crucial to lap times, in particular on circuits with long straights and slow corners where acceleration may be tricky.

A good combination to practice throttle control is Assetto Corsa's Tatuus FA010 single seater at Monza: The car is rear-wheel driven and very light at under 500 kilograms while being relatively powerful at just under 200 hp. This means it is somewhat forgiving, but you will notice it immediately when you kick out the rear under acceleration. Monza's Variante Retifilo and Variante della Roggia are rather slow and provide good practice spots. This allows you to gauge your corner exits via your top speed before the next braking zone after the slow corners.


Should you specialize in GT cars. you can practice throttle control in them as well. Lower the traction control or turn it off entirely and try to avoid it intervening once you get back on the throttle after slow corners - either by ear, as an active TC has a very disctinctive, rough noise to it, or using the HUD or an overlay that shows when it is active. Try to get as close to the point of the TC being activated or when your tires would start to slip considerably. An added bonus of not using TC and having the rear step out: You might improve your car control when catching these slides.

Different TC Preferences​

As traction control works by cutting the throttle repeatedly for very short amounts of time to avoid the rear wheels spinning under power, avoiding its intervention means a cleaner exit with more power being used to gain speed, instead of being cut to avoid the car spinning out. The amount of TC used varies for each driver, as they each have a different driving style and preference.

Of course, different cars react differently, but with enough practice while paying attention to your throttle input, it should soon become second nature to figure out the limits of what you can do on the loud pedal.

Beware of the 1980s F1 turbo monsters in the beginning, though - their immense power that is delivered all at once when the turbocharger is up to speed and can bite even experienced racers. With enough practice and a high tolerance for frustration, you might soon dance around tight circuits in a 1000+ hp F1 car like Ayrton Senna used to do.


Your Thoughts​

How did you learn better throttle control? Do you prefer racing cars with our without TC? Let us know in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

If you want to practice throttle control... an important note.

All sims are not made equal when it comes to throttle. Some sims (e.g. those with a linear underlying throttle model like iRacing and ACC) require more throttle input to trigger significant engine torque response. Other sims with a more sophisticated, accurate throttle model (e.g. rF2, AMS 1) allow this to be tuned per-car – and for many cars, provide much more response as lower throttle percentages (thus giving you more range of throttle travel over which you can exercise control).

For anyone looking to understand the contrast, I suggest driving a GT3 or Cup car in ACC and then contrasting to the Boxer (Porsche) Cup car in AMS 1. Lack of TC aside, the AMS car will feel much more sensitive on power, because it takes less throttle percentage to generate the same engine torque. Again, TC aside, you'll notice that ACC requires you to carry more throttle percentage mid-corner to keep up a particular minimum speed. While the idea of a throttle model sounds very academic, it translates very immediately into the feel of the car in the sim.

Thanks to physics guru Niels Heusinkveld for alerting us to this. He has a couple great videos showcasing and explaining this issue.



N.B. I've tried my best, but all mistakes are my own, I'm no physics expert, and it is possible I've misinterpreted Niels' expert analysis somehow.
 
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Premium
I do, whoah, too fast, run wide under braking, slide a bit, hit the loose stuff, try and drive out with the accelerator, nearly loose the rear end, decide to brake again, At that point I have lost a heap of speed so I have control of the car, Hit the skinny pedal and aim for the next corner-Repeat.

Which is why I feel like Im going hell bent for leather around the track but I'm 8 seconds off the time.
 
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If you want to master the skill of delicate throttle control, I have just two words - CART Factor.
I've been driving those cars in rFactor 2 for years, and when I make a switch to any other car, it's just so easy.
 
One of the biggest reasons I never fell for the ACC hype train outside of the magical tyre number that's finally gone...

Is the fact that to be fast you need to turn the driver aids on...

Once I got the FFB dialled in there was still a very vague point to the way the cars felt, and this is largely because you are never on the limit, but driving as close to it as possible so as not to activate the aids and lose time...

I'll use them in the wet and in some late tyre wear stages in the cars that have them if I feel I need that safety blanket... But most of the time I'll turn off TC and ABS even in cars designed for them... I prefer to feel the edge of grip rather than the driver aids...
 
Premium
One of the biggest reasons I never fell for the ACC hype train outside of the magical tyre number that's finally gone...
Is the fact that to be fast you need to turn the driver aids on...
If you mean ABS and traction control, that's the reality of modern race cars in the real world. ACC is not vintage racing, that's best done in AC.
 
If you mean ABS and traction control, that's the reality of modern race cars in the real world. ACC is not vintage racing, that's best done in AC.

Nah Vintage racing is best done in AMS2... AC is getting a bit long in the tooth now... Good for obscure mods but it's physics is really dated now...

ABS and TC might be around in a lot of modern cars... It doesn't mean I have to enjoy it in sim racing where I can turn them off and still have fun... ACC just puts too much time into using them in the simulated world... I prefer it when there's a leveling penalty when people using driving aids...
 
Nah Vintage racing is best done in AMS2... AC is getting a bit long in the tooth now... Good for obscure mods but it's physics is really dated now...

ABS and TC might be around in a lot of modern cars... It doesn't mean I have to enjoy it in sim racing where I can turn them off and still have fun... ACC just puts too much time into using them in the simulated world... I prefer it when there's a leveling penalty when people using driving aids...
But if you want to accurately simulate GT3 racing, which I assume is the reason to play ACC, then the most realistic way is to turn the aids on since the real GT3/GT4 cars also use them.

They're not putting "too much time into using them in the simulated world" they're putting the right amount of focus on something that gets used in the real life racing. If you don't use it, that's fair, but expect for the cars to handle worse since they are made with these aids in mind.
 
But if you want to accurately simulate GT3 racing, which I assume is the reason to play ACC, then the most realistic way is to turn the aids on since the real GT3/GT4 cars also use them.

They're not putting "too much time into using them in the simulated world" they're putting the right amount of focus on something that gets used in the real life racing. If you don't use it, that's fair, but expect for the cars to handle worse since they are made with these aids in mind.

I stopped caring about wanting to simulate in ACC when I was told there was a magical tyre pressure number to hit... If I'm already in that arcade realm might as well just have fun...

1.9 has helped a fair bit in improving the simulation immersion of ACC, but overall it's a fundamental issue with my driving style that has never been able to adapt to driving to driver aid limit and not the grip limit of the car...
 
I stopped caring about wanting to simulate in ACC when I was told there was a magical tyre pressure number to hit... If I'm already in that arcade realm might as well just have fun...

1.9 has helped a fair bit in improving the simulation immersion of ACC, but overall it's a fundamental issue with my driving style that has never been able to adapt to driving to driver aid limit and not the grip limit of the car...
I respect this take on it.
 

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