Guide: How to drive the perfect racing line

Guide: How to drive the perfect racing line

Find out how to nail every corner in our racing line tutorial.

Photo credit: SimRacing-GP

A lot of guides will tell you to drive the perfect race line to achieve the best lap times. But what is the racing line and how do you have to steer through different corners? We’ve got you covered.

The basics

First of all, let’s define some basic terms. The racing line is the way that allows you to go maximum speed while entering and exiting a corner as well as possible straight sections afterwards.

When you arrive at a turn, you obviously have to slow down your car. At the braking point you start hitting the respective pedal.

You always want to drive in a straight line while slowing down your car. The space you need to do so is called the braking zone. Find more information on how to brake in our tutorial with iRacing’s top rated driver Maximilian Benecke:

HOW TO BRAKE IN ESPORTS RACING

After you’ve slowed down your car enough, you start steering into the corner. The starting point for this process is called the turn-in point. While you turn in, you always want to look at the apex of the corner.

The apex is basically the inside of the corner where you stop turning in and start to turn out of it again. However, a corner does not have one apex but several ones depending on the corner’s position on the track as you will learn soon.

Once you’ve passed the apex and apply the throttle, your car will be carried to the outside of the track. If you applied the throttle perfectly while exiting and did the right amount of steering, you will find yourself at the perfect exit point.

But how do you get there? And how do you have to tackle which corner? Let’s get in-depth now.

The geometric line

In theory, the fastest way through a corner is the so-called geometric line.

This line has its turn-in point at the outside edge of the road. You then steer through the corner in a constant radius. Think of it as if you’d draw a circle with your car.

Driving the geometric line means that you will reach the inner apex of the corner at the ‘tip’ of your circle.

THE GEOMETRIC LINE
Hitting the apex while driving the geometrical line.

Upon reaching the apex, you slowly start to apply the throttle while you still steer in the same radius until you reach the exit point.

Looking at a corner in isolation, the geometric line is the fastest way to get through it. But there can be certain variations of the racing line depending on what comes after a corner.

Let’s look at how the racing line can change under different circumstances.

The ideal racing line

In racing, the ideal racing line isn’t always a symmetric circle as explained above. The apex can be shifted to reach an overall better lap time.

Let’s go to Spa-Francorchamps for an example. The first corner of the circuit is followed by a long, full-speed straight. You definitely want to carry as much speed as possible out of the corner in order to reach maximum speed on the long straight. This is why you have to take on the corner differently in this case in order to reach the best acceleration possible.

braking and turn-in point
While arriving at the corner, remind yourself where your braking and turn-in point are.

The goal now is not to describe a circle. You have to move the turn-in point a bit further into the corner. Your steering radius will thus be tighter and your apex will shift towards the end of the corner.

late apex and steer sharply
Take a late apex and steer sharply.

This will allow you to drive a straighter line in the corner exit which allows early throttle application.

This racing line is slower in the corner due to the abrupt, sharp steering but it has a major upside. You will be able to carry way more speed into the long straight which is a huge benefit for your lap time.

go in a straight line earlier
Thanks to the different approach, you are able to go in a straight line earlier. The marks on the track surface show that using the geometrical line still would have caused you to steer at this point, costing you important acceleration.

This example can also be flipped upside down. If a slow corner is following the one you’re driving through, you can go for the geometrical line in order to reach maximum speed right in the corner. As another corner is following, the exit speed is not too important which is why you don’t have to shift the apex.

Comparison of geometrical line
Comparison of geometrical line (earlier apex) and the ‘ideal’ line (later apex). Source: Paradigm Shift Driver Development / CC BY-SA

Important learnings

The perfect racing line actually does not only depend on the corner you are about to take. It heavily depends on what comes after. That’s why it is extremely important for you to know the circuit you’re driving by heart.

Finding the perfect racing line is always a weighing between high speed in the corner itself or the exit of the corner.

There are several other aspects that will help you to find the perfect line.

Always use as much space of the track as possible. The tighter a corner, the slower you have to go. Make sure your turn-in point and exit point are on the outside of track limits. Otherwise you will limit yourself.

Use every centimeter possible
Use every centimeter possible.

Every turn has its own peculiarities. Sometimes, there will be bumps, elevations or curbs that can slow you down. Keep those in mind while choosing your way through the corner. Once again, it’s important for you to know the track exactly.

Some games will offer racing line assists which help you to find braking points and indicate if you’re going too fast. However, we recommend turning them off as they are not always indicating the perfect way of doing things.

Try to find the braking and turn-in point for every corner yourself. There are several landmarks around the track that can help you remember the spots. Those can be trees, fences, meter boards on the side or marks on the track surface. Don’t use shadows as they will change positions throughout the course of the day.

Now you’re ready to drive the perfect line in every corner. Follow our guide, practice those corners and outrun your opponents!