Basic driving guides

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Revision as of 16:45, 22 November 2006 by GP4Flo (talk | contribs) (fixed analyze for speed link)
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Simple Driving Tips

  • Use your brakes in good time when you are approaching a corner. It is in fact faster to take a corner at a safe speed, rather than braking late and hard (which could cause you to run off the track or run wide, off the racing line).
  • Hard braking also causes flat spots to occur on your tyres, significantly reducing grip and possibly leading to blowouts. Also avoid driving on grass and dirt, as this also reduces grip.
  • Be gentle with your throttle when you are driving a rear wheel drive car. Applying too much throttle too quickly will cause you to spin out when you exit corners.
  • Be very careful in the first corner of the race, especially when starting from the back. You will probably have to brake much earlier than you are used to, because of cars piling up in front of you. The first turn is the most dangerous one in a race, be careful, don't ruin your or (even worse) the race of others.
  • Practise makes perfect. Drivers who win races do so because they put in the time and effort into learning the track and their cars.

Online Racing Etiquette

  • Don't spam: There is no need to repeat a message over and over. Other racers will be annoyed by you. It's rude and there is simply no use in doing that. Even if you are angry or you have the right to be angry, never spam!
  • If you get BLUE FLAG displayed on the screen, it means a player who is one or more laps ahead of you is attempting to pass. You must let this player past you without competing with him or unduly hindering his progress. It is debatable whether or not to leave the racing line, that is your choice. The biggest thing is Be Predictable. Don't make any sudden maneuvers, don't suddenly dive out of the racing line when the faster car is right behind you and already committed to pass, don't suddenly dive out of your line on the straight and jam on the brakes. If you're going to leave the racing line, do so smoothly, and so that the car behind can see what you're doing. Otherwise, if you're going to stick to the racing line, make sure the racer behind can see that you're keeping your line. Bottom line is, the driver behind is still passing, so it's his prerogative to pass cleanly, but it is the other driver's responsibility not to compete with the lapping driver, and not to intentionally prevent a pass.

More Driving Tips

by Gentlefoot

Speed comes from consistency

It’s all very well pushing to the absolute limit every lap, going off in 3 out of 4 and setting a fast time on the 1 clean lap. However, this will not help you in a race where one off can cost you a win. Also, it will make it very difficult to improve and get really fast.

The first time I lap a new circuit I’ll do the whole thing in say 2nd gear. That way I get a good look at all the potential reference points around the track and I get a feel for the flow. Then I begin to build up speed. I find I can learn a track in just a few laps taking this approach.

Also, if you keep going off in say turn 3, then you’ll never know what the entry to turn 4 will be like at full speed. I have mates who play and go off at the same corner over and over again. When they finally make it through the corner, they crash at the next one!

In addition, once you get to within say 5 seconds of the WR, then you’ll know which corners you can push a little harder on to save time and which you are pretty much on the money.

Consistency is an absolute must when adjusting your setups. When I’m creating setups I JUST try to be consistent so that any changes show up in the time. If I was pushing 99% then a fast bit here and mistake there makes lap time comparison meaningless.


This tool is fantastic. When you watch WRs and can’t work out how they are getting through corners at certain speeds, this tool can help. You can see at any moment in a lap speed, throttle/brake position, steering angle and track position. It may look at first glance as tho you are doing the same thing but use AnalyzeForSpeed and you will see how completely different WR holders drive to you.

Analyse for Speed website
LFS's analysers info page (to download the 'trackmaps')

Corner Entry

Use every inch of space on corner entry. This opens up the radius of the turn for you so the turn is less tight. Even when you think you are using all the track you probably are not. AnalyzeForSpeed has an uncanny knack of proving this to you.

As you are turning toward the apex, you need to be above the ideal corner speed slightly, scrubbing it off as you get to the apex. If you turn in at the required corner speed, you will be shedding time to the fast guys who will be carrying extra speed to the apex I guarantee it. This is one of the hardest skills to master in LFS and in my view what separates the ‘aliens’ (I hate that term) from the rest of us. To do this you will need to learn how to trail brake while keeping some throttle on. Make sure your pedals are set with separate axis.


Many beginners do not down-change early enough when braking. This makes a big difference in braking areas after long straights into slow corners. It can reduce your braking distance by as much as 10 metres. This will save you 1-2 tenths in lap time. It can also help you when attempting a pass on corner entry or defending a pass from a driver behind.

The down change needs to occur at the precise moment when the speed is reduced to a point where the wheels will not lock as you enter the gear below. Lock up and your braking distance will increase dramatically and you will ruin your tyres.

In many cars you can down change at the same moment of even just before you hit the brakes. This depends on the revs in current gear, gear ratios and the rate at which the car can reduce speed.


Look after them – don’t lock them in braking and apply the absolute minimum steering angle required. If the tyres are making loads of noise you have applied too much lock. This will dramatically increase your tyre temps and mean you have to run less aggressive camber and pressures to make them last the race. This will lose you time.

Important Corners

Corners before long straights are the most important on any circuit. This is because for every mph extra you carry through the corner, you carry an extra mph all the way down the straight until you hit the brakes.

Fast corners before long straights are even more important than slow corners before straights because at higher speeds the car accelerates more slowly, so the extra mph you carry has a greater affect.

For corners before long straights you can afford to lose some time on entry if it means you will come out faster. Generally this means apex slightly further round the corner than the mid point. The longer the straight, the later the apex although on fast corners the apex point is pretty much in the middle because you must carry speed through fast corners for reasons mentioned above.

Set your car up for the most important corners on a track and you should be able to put in some fast times.

Power on Early

Ever wondered why sometimes it seems as though someone is faster down the straight than you? Its probably because they got their foot on the accelerator a fraction a a second before you.

Concentrate on getting back on full power as early in a corner as possible (just before the apex if possible, at the very latest, just after the apex). Think about this when you are driving and you will knock seconds off your lap times.

Using AnalyzeForSpeed you can see when the WR holders are getting on the power and compare that to your own best laps. Its amazing how early the fastest drivers get back on full throttle.


Know you’re split times so you know if you were quick or slow when you took a particular line through a section. Know the WR splits too so you know which sections you need to make up most time in.

Following Faster Racers

Even watching a replay of the WR is not the same as actually following a guy who is faster then you and emulating his/her lines. Sometimes following someone will show you a line you hadn’t noticed in a replay. This helped me massively on the final turn at AS Club.

This assumes you are quick enough to keep up for at least part of a lap.

Emulating WRs

Don’t watch a WR, see that the driver takes T1 at 87mph and then try and take T1 at 87mph, you will go off. Try to aim for a few mph less and build from there. You will get a feel for the amount of lock, trail braking, and throttle control by doing this. With practice you may then be able to match the WR speed through a particular corner.

Surviving Turn One

by Gunn

Everybody loves a close race, nobody loves being wiped out in the first corner. To win a race you must at least finish the race and all can be lost in the first hot seconds if care is not taken. Let's take a brief look at some important considerations when a race starts and a swarm of cars goes thundering towards turn 1.

  • When the lights go green there is always going to be a mad dash for the first corner, all drivers want to make the best start they can.
  • Rarely will all cars launch from the line evenly, a car in front of you may be slow getting away.
  • Very few (and perhaps none) of the drivers will have a perfect line into the first few corners as all cars jostle for position and get settled.
  • Everybody's tyres are cold, grip levels are low.
  • Most drivers would now have opponents close by them but sitting in their blind spot, requiring a head turn to check their actual positions.
  • The greatest potential for lag in LFS is when a large field of cars is bunched up together.

If there is ever a recipe for a multi-car pile up, Turn One (T1) of almost any race track is the mixing bowl and a bunch of racers hungry for victory are the ingredients. Let's take a look at and discuss ways to avoid T1 pile-ups and increase your chances of finishing the race in one piece so you can enjoy your victory cake.

  • When the lights go green, apply the throttle smoothly (don't stomp) and try to get away cleanly with as little wheelspin as possible.
  • This is a good time to quickly glance left and right to see where your nearest rivals are and see how well they have launched from the start. You now have a better idea of your relative positions and are less likely to end someone's race through a poorly-timed move.
  • It is best not to throw your car into T1 with wild abandon, if someone is beside you entering the turn you should leave them room to corner, you want to avoid car-to-car contact. Better for both of you to corner carefully than to cause a 6 car pile-up.
  • Be prepared to back off or brake, don't rely on luck to get you through. Be aware that other cars are prone to error in these first few turns and get ready to evade an accident ahead.
  • Cars in front may brake heavily, avoid contact. Shunting the current world champion out of the race in the first ten seconds is a rather embarassing way to end your (and his) event or championship. Public races should be treated the same way. It is a common error that we have all made or will make early in our training and, as you will find out, it is the worst way to be taken out of a race. No matter if it's the first or last corner of a race be very, very wary of rear-ending another car.

Obeying Flags

by Gunn

Flags in Live For Speed

While racing you may see warning flags displayed on screen and it is important to know what they mean. The flags in our LFS races are controlled by the software of course, in real life racing people make decisions about if, when, and how flags are to be displayed. The general meanings of these warnings (outlined below) should apply in most cases where you are faced with a flag in LFS racing.

Yellow Flag

When you see the yellow flag displayed on your screen it tells you that a car up ahead has spun or crashed. You should prepare to slow down and avoid becoming a casualty of the incident. Up ahead the car that has spun may be just rejoining the track when you arrive on the scene. It would do nobody any good if you plowed into him because you had disregarded the yellow flag warning.

  • When you see a yellow, get ready for trouble and get ready to back off. You can't win the race if your car has become a burning wreck so it is better to be cautious and survive the day.

Blue Flag

A blue flag tells you that a car behind is in a higher position than you are. The action you will take depends on your situation. Let's examine the two likely situations where a blue flag will appear in Live For Speed.

  • If you are being lapped by a faster car: The car behind you is consistently faster than you and has managed to travel one more lap than you have. He is about to overtake you and the blue flag is displayed to warn you of his presence. In this case you are hindering his progress and must allow him to pass you as soon as it is safe to do so (you can't be expected to yield while negotiating a chicane or high speed corner) Hold your line don't fight the other car, do not make any sudden movements left or right, ease off slightly and let him pass. He is a lap ahead of you and you are not fighting him for position. You must not hold him up.
  • You are not being lapped by a faster car: The car behind you is in a higher position but is not consistently faster than you. Perhaps you had an earlier spin or have just made a pit stop or stopped to serve a penalty and that is why your rival has managed to creep up behind you as if he is about to lap you. As above, if you see a blue flag you must not hinder the progress of the car behind, if you are holding it up you should allow the other car to pass you as soon as possible. If you are not hindering its progress then get on with the job and leave it behind you.

Note: There is some controversy in real racing about exact interpretation of blue flag rules. Generally it is accepted that you hold your line and make no sudden or defensive moves, allowing the faster car to overtake you. You will earn respect from all drivers for acting sensibly and fairly when faced with a blue or yellow flag.


by Gunn As a car races forwards it punches a hole in the air as it goes along, and after the car has gone past the displaced air rushes in to fill the gap.

If you travel very close to the car in front you will notice that you can go faster than he is able to. This is known as drafting or slipstreaming. The leading car disturbs the air and does all of the work, the following car (travelling in a nice pocket with almost no wind resistance) is not inhibited and can build up speed faster than normally possible. The trailing car "gets a tow" from the car in front.

It is easy to see how drafting could be used to overtake your opponents and indeed it is a much-used overtaking technique. In some cases two cars may be so well matched that the only chance the trailing driver has to overtake is by drafting on a long straight. So obviously drafting has real benefits, but also there are hazards.


  • Your car may reach a higher top speed by drafting (once you pull out of the draft the wind resistance will steadily pull your speed back to the normal maximum for your setup. However your gear ratios and final drive will ultimately effect how well your car can take advantage of drafting).
  • Drafting gives you a temporary and short-lived opportunity to gain position, but timing is important. Sometimes drafting may be the only safe way past your rival.
  • Drafting can reduce lap times during a race and may have a minimal fuel-saving benefit.


  • Braking is not as effective when travelling in another car's slipstream. Not only are you perhaps travelling faster than normal when you reach your braking zone but you have less resistance and slowing down will not be as abrupt as usual. The potential to shunt the leading car is great, and racers should always be prepared to adjust their braking to suit the situation.
  • Shunting while travelling at full speed is also a risk. If you are very close behind the leading car then your speed may incease very rapidly in a short time. You don't want to shunt the other racer, you'll either damage both cars or even worse you may propel him forward and increase his lead!
  • Cornering in the slipstream can be very tricky. Aerodynamic downforce that is generated by some types of cars (GTR, FOX, FO8) can be affected when there is no air to create downforce on the wings or spoilers. Coupled with your extra speed when drafting this can cause spin-outs in fast curves and can affect your braking too.


Should I draft other cars in a race?
Absolutely, but be wary of contact and be ready to brake earlier then usual when approaching corners or slower drivers.

Is drafting a sure way to overtake an opponent?
No. Often the benefit gained from drafting is not enough to make the pass. If you get close to the leading car early on to the straight then you have a real chance of winning the position, but be wary of jumping into the slipstream late, make sure you have enough room to carry out your plans.

What do I do if another car is drafting me?
If on a straight, hold your line but do not swerve or block, if you get overtaken, then that's motor racing, set yourself up for a well-timed attack further up the track or on the next lap and fight back when you have a real chance of making it happen.

If approaching a corner you can take a defensive line to make overtaking more difficult, but swerving is still a no-no. You should only ever make one defensive movement in response to an attack.
Absolutely do not brake earlier than usual if you can help it. Remember that the drafting car will brake with difficulty.

Race Driving Basic

Oversteer & Understeer

Oversteer in the “textbook” sense is the difference between cornering stiffness at front and rear, taking into account tyre characteristics, geometries, bush rates, etc, etc. By this definition, understeer and oversteer are independent of vehicle path or speed - they are purely vehicle properties.

Oversteer or its counterpart understeer is not the difference (or should it be the ratio of the two?) between cornering stiffness front and rear but it is a dynamic trajectory property caused by cornering stiffness. But cornering stiffness are not just static properties influenced by the factors given above. There are more factors that influence cornering stiffness: body roll, roll stiffness front and rear, load transfer, wheel camber change, roll steer (front and rear) and torque applied to the driving wheels. The tyre characteristics are speed and load dependent too. From this, it follows that driving characteristics of a car cannot be defined as being just over or understeering. At every speed and trajectory curvature (1/radius) one can say it is understeering, neutral or oversteering for those conditions. So the over/understeering character is a complex one.

In the everyday road car a compromise is sought to make the car responsive to the steering wheel and stable at the same time. From here follows the success story of the FWD concept (understeering). For a sports car that is quick (not the same as fast) and provides driver fun, a different concept is needed: mid-engined, rear wheel drive (initial slight understeer changing to oversteer by applying engine torque - power oversteer/steering with the throttle).

Perhaps it is useful to mention the definition of over and understeer as used by the scientists who perform research in vehicle behaviour? Suppose you are running a car at a constant speed with a constant curvature (the path is a circle then), if you then keep the steering wheel in the same position (angle) and increase the car speed gradually, then if the car wants to run on a circle with a smaller radius the car is said to be oversteering, if it remains on the same radius it is neutral and if the car goes to a wider circle it is understeering (for that speed and curvature!). The test can be done somewhat differently, again the car is running at a certain speed on a certain radius. Increase the speed and try to keep the car on the same radius. If you need to apply extra steering angle it is understeering, if you can keep the steering wheel in the same position it is neutral, if you can turn back the steering wheel somewhat it is oversteering.

Oversteer is when the rear wheels are carving a larger arc than the front wheels or the intended line of the turn. Rear “slip angles” exceed those of the front tyres. This is often described as a “loose” condition, as the car feels like it may swap ends, or be “twitchy.” This condition can be caused by “power oversteer”, where you need to reduce power in order to bring the back end back into line.

Understeer is when the front wheels are carving a larger arc than the rear wheels. This is often described as “push” or “pushing” - as the front end feels like it is ploughing off of a corner. Further acceleration only compounds the push, as weight shifts back to the rear drive wheels, off of the front turning wheels, leading to a further lessening of the car’s ability to turn in. Understeer can be remedied by slight modulation in throttle to transfer weight forward to the front wheels, aiding their traction and ability to carve the turn. Many cars are designed to have a tendency to understeer. If the driver gets uncomfortable and “lifts” off the gas, that will cause the front end to tighten the curve - a relatively safer, and more predictable condition.

Trail Braking

Trail braking (a.k.a. ‘brake-turning’, braking while turning toward the apex of a corner) is another learning curve for you to climb sooner or later. However, learn trail braking slowly; if you’re used to road driving (where you’re taught to finish braking before turning into a corner) then you might find it tricky to learn the extra delicacy demanded by trail braking. In PU, the trade-off between brake pressure and steering input is hard to judge when you can’t feel the car turning and pitching through your body.

What is trail braking? In essence, it means continuing to brake after having turned in for a corner. The further you progress into the corner, the more you turn the steering wheel and the more pressure you release from the brake pedal. Typically, the procedure goes like this: You are hurtling in a straight line toward a corner; You apply the brakes - fully - while still travelling in a straight line; At some point, you release a little pressure from the brakes and start to turn in; As you bend into the corner and approach the throttle application point, you progressively release the rest of the pressure from the brake.

What’s the point of it? Trail braking helps you rotate the car into a corner by controlling the transfer of weight onto the front tyres, giving them more stick, and thus compensating for any understeering tendency the car would otherwise have. The alternative is: do all of your braking in a straight line, then release the brakes entirely, then turn in. The trouble with this technique is that when you release the brakes, weight - and therefore stick - will be removed from the front tyres, just when you need them to be loaded enough to turn the car into the corner. So - unless the car is set up to be driven like this - it will understeer away from the corner. This is typical behaviour for ‘street’ (aka massively understeering) cars that have been adapted for racing.

On the other hand, a ‘proper’ race car will probably oversteer if you don’t trail brake. If you turn into a corner with your feet off both brake and throttle, the front tyres will have all their traction budget available for turning while the back wheels will be doing some (engine) braking. Net result: oversteer. Application of the brakes settles down the oversteer by substituting a proportionately balanced loss of steering traction (because the brakes are biased towards the front). In fact, you use the brake pressure to control the rate at which the car rotates into the corner.

How much trail braking you do at a particular corner - i.e. what percentage of the corner is taken under braking - depends on the angle of the corner. For a 60° corner, you’d typically only trail for a few percent of the corner, for a 90° corner, you’d typically trail brake for maybe 25% of the corner, and for a bigger corner, you could do it for up to 50% of the corner. You are aiming to trail off the brakes until they are released completely at or before the throttle application point (which typically occurs somewhere before the geometric apex). - Thanks to the Virtual Racers Edge Site for this helpful info.

Threshold Braking

Think of the contact patch of your tyres. The few square inches that each tyre touches the road with may be upset not only by rapid steering input but by rapid brake input as well. ABS minimizes this, but there is a way that a good driver can shorten stopping distances even beyond ABS in some cases. How?

ABS works in different ways, but to illustrate this point, I’ll take an example of, say, a Subaru Outback with four people in the car on a snowy surface (this may be easier to visualize given a heavier car on a slick day): You begin a panic stop, depressing the brake. The car goes up to maximum braking, and then one wheel begins to slide or lock. As it does so, the car momentarily pulses the pedal back to you, which feels like a “burp” under your foot. In doing so, it allows that locked wheel to again rotate. This helps in two ways. First, a tyre brakes most efficiently when it is just short of locking up, exerting the maximum effort on the surface. When it goes beyond that point and slides, braking is diminished. Second, by keeping the wheels from locking up, ABS helps maintain directional control, especially if the driver is steering around an obstacle while braking. In effect, in a panic stop ABS allows the driver to pound the brakes as hard as he or she wishes, but still have effective braking and directional control. Remember that a tyre gets maximum braking just before the point of lockup. Without ABS a driver can get maximum braking effort by braking to the point of wheel lock, and then reducing the pressure ever so slightly to the point where the wheels are rotating again. This is known as “threshold braking.” The dangers of course are in backing off a bit too much and not getting maximum effort, and in maintaining directional control while braking.

Back now to an ABS equipped car: By using threshold braking, it is even possible in some cases to do better than ABS. Remember the pulsing action that some ABS systems use to allow the locked wheel to rotate again? While this is happening, the braking effort on the other three wheels is momentarily lessened also. On a slick snowy surface, if you continue extreme hard braking so that ABS is constantly activated, the lessened brake force is extremely evident. It almost feels as though the car starts sliding faster! If this happens to you, back off slightly to allow the ABS to disengage, and use threshold braking ... release ever so slightly as the ABS starts to “burp” back at your foot. A well executed stop will have you riding that edge, with ABS intermittently engaging as you modulate and keep feeling that threshold. On DRY pavement with good traction, you can stand on the pedal as much as you need to stop quickly and effectively.