It was really nice to see Lewis driving as he did in Sepang. His charge from the middle of the pack showed to me that he is not intimidated by his hugely complex and powerful machinery. The way he hustled his McLaren on to the kerbs, opposite locking it, out braking and then recovering to get the car going was all a treat to watch. It’s really something special to see such an young man having total control of his car at those speeds.
I could very often see Lewis giving a tinge of opposite lock to the steering wheel when he was hard on the power with his outside rear wheel on the kerb. It was purely on the limit correction and driving and was really fascinating to watch. It was so much on the edge that even a split second of missed corrective action would have spun him around leaving him beached.
I think having traction control around would’ve been an injustice to the likes of Lewis or Kimi who have stunning levels of car control. Car control is not just about bringing your car home safely without making any mistakes. Many other drivers on the grid can do that. It’s about taking your car beyond its limits and then stepping back to exactly on the limit when it bites back. And doing this for the whole race distance. That’s what differentiates a champion driver from a good driver. In the process, you will have extracted a lap time that the car simply doesn’t deserve and at the same time would’ve provide a spectacle to the spectators.
A little bit more technical brief on why Lewis did so many opposite locks in Malaysia on the kerbs:
The kerbs have lesser grip levels than the tarmac. Also, the outside rear wheel, which is accelerating on the kerb, will have extra burden in the form of the car’s weight in addition to the accelerating force. Naturally, the tyre will tend to slide away as a reaction to these two loads. One effective corrective action that can be given by the driver is to take some of the car’s weight away from that tyre. This is done by turning the steering wheel in a direction opposite to that of what is required to negotiate the corner and this is what we call as the opposite lock. When this is done, the weight starts transferring to the inside wheels and the car starts to get stabilised. This prevents the car from spinning.
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