Q: “I’m told that I’m too slow to apply the brakes. What can I do to improve this — how can I get faster when applying the brakes? And is it possible to apply the brakes too fast? From looking at telemetry it seems I am not quite getting the initial attack of the brake pedal as steep as the reference lap I have from another driver. I seem to squeeze the brakes on, and the other driver almost spikes the brakes. I left foot brake, and I try to hit the pedal as quickly as I can, but it’s not as fast. Should I be faster, and if so, what do you think is causing me to be slower? Do you think it’s the setup of my pedals, that they’re not in the right place?”
A: Yes, a quick ramp up of brake pressure is beneficial. It can be too quick, but usually — in a modern car, at least — the quicker you can ramp up to maximum pressure, the better.
In my experience, changing the pedal set up isn’t likely the problem, and probably won’t really address the issue properly. Sure, having the pedals in the right position is important, as is your body position in relation to them. Keeping your heels on the floor is also important, because it’s quicker and more controlled to pivot your feet at the ankles, rather than moving your entire leg.
But I’m thinking it may be a physical thing with your feet. Why I think this is because I’ve seen it many times. In fact, I coached a driver recently who had this same problem. In his case, the fix was to actually work on foot speed. It meant some exercises to strengthen his calf/ankle/foot muscles, some stretching, and then simply practicing moving the feet while not in the car — just sitting in a chair.
I recommend doing exercises like calf raises, starting with the front of your foot raised (on something that raises it up a couple of inches), and then raise and lower your body, up and down. You can Google calf raises for images/videos. But this will strengthen the muscles that you use to move your feet quickly.
Stretching is also super important, especially as you strengthen your muscles.
Then, sit in a chair with your feet out in front of you like when you’re driving, and pretend to quickly apply the pedals. Pretend to be at full throttle with your right foot, then quickly pull it back, and instantly apply the imaginary brake pedal with your left foot. I suggest setting your phone or a video camera up and recording your foot movement — do this exercise a few times each day (for at least 5-10 minutes each time) for a week, and then record a video again. Compare the movement. Can you see how much quicker you are now? You could even time the speed of your foot by measuring frame rates of the video.
Between strengthening, stretching and working imaginary pedals, I’m sure you’ll see an improvement in foot speed.
And by the way, you’re not alone. Foot speed is something that pro race drivers work on a lot.