Q: “How important is the balance between getting back on the power early and quickly exiting a corner, but making sure that you are smooth?”
A: This is a tough one because smooth is fast, and yet you can be too smooth, as well. Think about it: One way to be smoother than every other driver is to drive around at one MPH! That would be smooth, wouldn’t it?! What came to mind when I read your question is that sometimes we can be so focused on getting back to power early that we start to apply the throttle, then have to ease up to avoid driving off the track. The car wasn’t pointed in the right direction to go back to that much throttle yet. That’s being too greedy with the throttle, it’s not smooth, and it costs time. You’d be better hesitating just for a fraction of second to wait until you can begin applying the throttle at a time, and in a way that you can continue to feed it in all the way to full throttle. In most cases – but not all – it’s more important where you get to full throttle than it is when you just begin to tip into the throttle. Of course, the best drivers are both smooth and get back to full throttle early. That sometimes takes a bit of patience and discipline.
Here are a couple of video tips I created a while ago that relate to your question: