Q: “I’m told by my instructors to late apex corners, but I sometimes feel I’m turning in too late, and I have to turn sharply to do that. Is there a way to use a late apex without turning in late? Or is this all geometry?!”
A: That’s a great question because I think the late apex advice is often – but not always – over-prescribed.
Before I tackle your question directly, I want to clarify that there is an apex point or area, but there is also an apex angle. See, it’s possible to clip past the right point or area on the inside of a corner, and yet still not have the car pointing in the exact direction you want so you’re able to get a good exit out of the corner. It’s important to think about the angle the car is at while passing the apex.
Now to your question. Basically, you’re asking if you can turn in earlier, and yet clip a late apex. All of this is relative, so when I say “earlier,” I’m not talking a very early turn-in or apex. It’s just earlier relative to the later turn-in and apex.
There is a way to turn in relatively earlier, and still clip past the apex at the right angle. Sounds like the perfect world, and too good to be true, right? But if you use the timing and rate of release of the brakes just right, the car will rotate while turning in relatively early, and then merge onto the same path or line that you’d drive if you turned in later. But you’d be carrying slightly more speed, since you didn’t need to slow as much for that later, sharper radius turn-in. Yes, that’s the best of both worlds. But it’s not easy. And I’d even go so far as to say it’s not for drivers who are not ready for it yet. It’s a great target to aim for for less experienced drivers, but there are likely to be more important things to be focused on at this stage of one’s development as a performance driver.
I have three videos that might further answer your question. The first is Rotate Your Car to Drive Faster. Then, Use an Early Apex to Driver Faster. And finally, Why Use a Late Apex to Drive Faster.