Q: “Does an earlier throttle application always mean a better exit off of a corner? It seems that sometimes when I start accelerating early, I don’t end up with as high a top speed on the straight as other times. What’s going on?”
A: If you enter a corner at 5 MPH, just think how early you could begin applying the throttle! You’d be able to immediately go to full throttle because you’re traveling so slowly. So, even though you got back to throttle early, you won’t make up for the slow cornering speed. That’s why, sometimes, getting to throttle early doesn’t make you faster down the following straightaway, and faster overall.
Take this example to the opposite end of the spectrum. If you enter a corner too fast, you’re going to be late to throttle, and that will hurt your straightaway speed, too. This is why the advice, “In slow – out fast” is given so often.
Getting the balance between corner minimum speed, and when you begin to accelerate, is part of the magic compromise that you need to do in every single corner.
There’s something else to consider in all of this, too. If you begin to squeeze on the throttle early, but then have to ease up a bit before you get to full throttle, that will often hurt your straightaway speed more than if you hesitated slightly before even beginning to squeeze the throttle. In other words, it’s not when you begin to apply the throttle that counts; it’s when you get to full throttle that makes the difference. There are exceptions to this guideline, but often we’re in such a hurry to apply the throttle that we actually hurt our acceleration and exit speed. If you find yourself having to ease up on the throttle as you accelerate out of a corner, you have likely begun to apply the throttle too soon, and a bit of patience might make you faster.
I created a video tip – Off-Throttle – Coasting to Be a Faster Driver – that will add to my thoughts here.