Q: “As I look forward to the 2022 race season, and watching instructional videos, I often hear people talk about the importance of being ‘smooth’ with your inputs. At one level, I understand that, when going down the front straight, if I rapidly step on the brake while turning the steering wheel as fast as I can is likely going to cause me to lose control. But I also know that “smooth” is not the same thing as ‘slow.’ So, my question is, how can you make rapid inputs, while still being ‘smooth’?”
A: First, take a look at my answer to a related question here: https://speedsecrets.com/q-how-do-i-know-whether-im-too-smooth-or-not-smooth-enough-when-driving-on-track/ – and the two videos linked in that answer.
I also answered the question about why smooth is fast here: https://speedsecrets.com/q-what-is-maintenance-throttle-when-should-i-use-it/
But you’re asking about making rapid inputs and still being smooth. That’s the main thing that every driver continues to work on forever! There’s a trade-off… the way to be really smooth is to drive slow; if you move the controls (pedals, steering wheel, shifter) too fast/rapid/un-smooth, you’ll upset the balance of the car, reducing tire traction (that’s what one of the videos I linked to explains – why smooth is fast). You have to find the perfect balance between being smooth and getting the car to change direction and do what you want. Early in a driver’s development, the focus should be on being smooth, fine-tuning the basic control (steering, pedals, shifting) skills. Then, to be fast, I think a driver needs to work on being less smooth, but more deliberate – grabbing the car by the neck and making it do what they want it to do! Then – and this is when a driver gets really fast – they smooth out those abrupt control movements, keeping in mind that a balanced car will have more grip than one that is not balanced.
Ultimately, the car needs to be smooth and balanced, but the driver may make some abrupt movements to make it do that. But even while making an abrupt movement, the goal should always be to make it as smooth as possible.
It’s a tough thing to explain, so I hope this helps a bit!