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- - Tyres - - Suspension - - Driving - -

Wet Weather Driving Technique

It is fair to say that wet weather is often seen to be a huge ‘leveller’ in all levels of motorsport. There is a far smaller tolerance for error, and more powerful cars are often limited from using all their power since the traction required simply is not available.

When racing in the dry, the racing compound of the tyres is scrubbed off the tyres and deposited into the pores of the tarmac on the track. These also trap in oil and grease from the general environment. This layer of softer rubber is seen as an advantage in the dry, as the tyres bond to it readily and offer higher levels of grip on this over pure tarmac. However, in the wet, this layer of rubber prohibits water being absorbed into the pores of the tarmac, and instead the water sits on the surface, acting as a perfect lubricant between road and tyre. Coupled with the grease absorbed and trapped by the rubber, we have a cocktail designed to reduce a tyre's grip hugely.

Because of thereduced levels of grip on the ‘racing line’ in the wet, it is important for the driver to ‘drive to the grip’. Essentially this means driving off the dry racing line, where the rubber has not been deposited onto the track. This could be just to the inside of the dry line, round the outside of it, or simply across it. Watching footage of Michael Schumacher driving in the wet will demonstrate this brilliantly. He is very infrequently on the conventional racing line in the wet, and he was known as the ‘Rain Master’! When driving in this way, you will inevitably cross the dry racing line. When you do this, the grip is reduced, so it is important to have the wheels facing as straight on as possible, and make as little overall change in input to the vehicle as possible. I often find it beneficial to have a far more relaxed grip of the wheel in the wet, so that I am far more sensitive to changes in steering wheel torque, so that I can detect the vehicle losing grip more easily.

Generally in the wet, the optimum way round the corner will have the car sliding around far more than in the dry. This has to be allowed for in the driving style and setup. Smoothness is even more crucial in the wet than the dry. Smoothness is KEY! Is it sinking in yet?


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