Driver61 on YouTube made a video explaining a certain skill and technique that made Formula 1 legend, Michael Schumacher, so quick in the corners.
Michael was overall an immensely quick driver, however, it was how he entered, went through, and exited corners, that helped him gain seconds over the rest of the grid. Every driver and champion has a specific technique that benefits them the best. Whether it’s Ayrton Senna’s heeling and toeing, aggressive driving, or Daniel Ricciardo’s late braking, and Sergio Perezs’ tire managing, each driver is completely different in their own way. Everyone has a certain technique and skill that gives them an advantage in something or benefits them in certain situations, the most legendary racing drivers have always had that one technique that set them apart from everyone else.
In Michael Schumacher’s case, apart from obvious abundant talent, this specific cornering technique let the legend dominate over everyone else on the grid. The main ability is Michael’s feel, sense, and ability to know the limit. To have a feel for the limit with a car that is going well over 200mph is a true sense that separates legends from great drivers. The 91-time race winner was able to have a consistent feel or sixth sense of the car’s ability and limit on different tracks and versatile conditions. Ayrton Senna, Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Lewis Hamilton, and-so-forth, have the same skill, to be able to push the car to exceeding limits, knowing when to pull back and when to start again.
Photo Credit: Motor Authority
Knowing when to push the limits and knowing when to hold back, is an important skill in any type of racing, If you compare Michael to others drivers’ data during that era and time period, you will see how Michael holds on to the limit for longer and all the way through. That sense assisted this technique that Schumacher used in every qualifying and race.
Other drivers let go of the limit earlier and lost time during laps and cornering. Although, Schumacher exceeded his car to the top limits, and let off the throttle much later. Keeping a faster, consistent pace, rewarding him with quicker laps. He quickly went back to 100% throttle when he exited corners. When Michael goes on the throttle, he goes on it smoothly, unlike drivers like Ayrton Senna who aggressively push and step on the throttle, so it pulls through in a more brutal fashion. He eases onto the throttle gently entering corners, then eases onto it back again when exiting, caressing the car while also pushing it to its limits in a subtle way. It’s not easy to pick up Michael’s technique with the naked eye, yet, when he takes on the corners, you can spot the technique that made Schumacher so quick.
If you compare Michael’s unique style to Johnny Herbert’s style, throttle style, and cornering style. It shows that Herbert entered the corner with more throttle than Schumacher entered with. But the main key is how you can keep that speed and limit consistent in the corners. Its true corners are what slow you down the most, but if you are able to find a loophole to keeping the limit throughout the corners and chicanes, that it when you gain every second you need. The technique only Schumacher could really play out.
In the data it shows when in a corner, Michael would many countless micro corrections, keeping the car on the limit, you can tell the car is on the limit by its rotation and slight sliding. While Johnny’s wasn’t close to the limit, it was much smoother than Michael’s, it went smooth through the corners, but it was also slower throughout the corners as well. Schumacher beat Herbert in that qualifying by two tenths of a second. It’s a certain throttle technique Schumacher uses while going around a corner that gain him seconds during qualifying where it matters the most, because it’s all about the fastest time in qualifying which determines your grid place. And the German was able to rack up a total of 68 pole positions in his career using that technique.
The 7-time World Champion would also make micro corrections in the middle and turning point of a corner, proving and showing that he was on the absolute limit and that the car was at its maximum performance and capacity. The entire way through a corner, Schumacher would make rotations. Rotation is when the rear of the car is sliding to turn the car by itself into the corner, it’s not a mistake like oversteer, it’s something done on purpose because Michael wants the car to turn itself into each corner, so it slides around the apex. If you look at onboards of Michael’s pole position laps, you can see the German’s steering input which is jerking at the steering wheel ever-so-slightly, even though it seems very aggressive and like hes jerking at the steering wheel hard, it’s a very delicate movement.
When a car and race car is on its limit, it is practically sliding on the tarmac and circuit, although, this isnt the only way you can tell if a car is on its limit. Each and every driver has their own definition and ability of what the limit is, it’s their choice to fully understand the limit and to be able to find a loophole to exceed that capacity. If the drivers have a good technique like Michael Schumacher, they are able to increase the grip limits to their liking, and increase the grip to maintain consistently when at maximum pressure such as races and flying laps.
And with Michael’s technique, he was able to keep the tires fully gripped on the entry of the corners, middle of the corner, and exit of the corner, giving him the upper hand in slow, hard, fast, and blind corners. It’s about finding the speed in the corner’s which will make you the quickest in each sector and qualifying. If you look at Michael’s steering inputs in corners, you can tell that he is creating rotation in the rear end of the car, while pausing on the steering in the middle and apex of the corner, the car still continues to turn around the corner, but the rear and back will pivot around slightly to the front. He is so fast into the corners, even during the most difficult part of the corner which is the entry, he can carry so much speed in, and keep that speed throughout. All of these inputs, specifically the rotations around the apex, is where his skill stood out.
It isnt as simple as you think, it’s not just about turning the car and hitting the apex, to be faster than everyone else needs a deep understanding of the car, its limits, it’s turning abilities, and how you can bend those limits to your liking. Every legend and every game-changing driver had a unique technique that made them special. And this certain throttle, steering, and cornering technique is what separated Michael Schumacher from every other driver.