Q: “Should I be using the ABS when braking hard for a corner, or apply just enough pressure to stay just before the ABS activates? I find that I’m often faster if I just jump on the brake pedal and get into the ABS, and sometimes that seems to make it harder to slow enough for a corner.”
A: The toughest part about your question is that it does depend on the ABS system. If you have a high-end system – and it sounds like you do – then using the ABS fully is a good thing. If you have a lower-end system that is not as sensitive, then using it like you are may result in extending the brake zone because you wouldn’t be slowing as quickly as you would if you weren’t into the ABS.
To be clear, this applies to the part of the brake zone where you’re attempting to slow as quickly as possible, mostly in a straight line. But when you get to the point where you’re entering the corner and trail braking, you probably want to ease out of the pedal pressure with a more gradual release of the brakes. So, it’s okay to be fully into the ABS during the approach to the corner, but you still want to trail off them as you turn into the corner.
Now, with some ABS systems – even some high-end ones – you will slow more quickly (in less distance – just about always a good thing when on the track) if you don’t fully engage the ABS. In these cases, I like to think of it as “tickling” the ABS. Here’s what I mean: If you pound the pedal and hold it down, you’re fully into the ABS and you feel the pedal pulsing; if you don’t apply enough pressure, you never feel the pulsing and are not slowing as fast as you can. But if you “tickle” the ABS, you’re applying just enough pressure to barely activate the ABS, and sometimes it’s even just pulsing every now and then.
I hope that makes sense! I would recommend experimenting with this on the track. You might find that your car decelerates more quickly (in less distance) if you tickle the ABS. Give it a try.