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As you can hear, today is all about shifting.
Wait a second? Shifting? You don’t need to tell me something about that! I have an automatic car! Well, in case you have, you can still decide about the fact, when your transmission needs to shift, right? And that is what we need to do. Either you shift by yourself through physically shifting into the next gear, or pulling at a paddle to let the transmission do it by itself.
Why do we even need to shift?
Most of the time you will have a normal petrol engined car, meaning that there is an engine somewhere around, that needs to be put in its perfect operating range as often as possible, to be able to create the power that moves you ahead of all your competitors. Shifting basically means to give the engine another possibility to prove what it can do and accelerates you towards the sound velocity barrier, or at least close to it.
How do we need to shift?
In case you have a dual clutch, or another type of an automatic transmission, you either have pedals at the wheel, or a lever somewhere close by, where you can decide on which gear you want to be in. For all the others, you need to operate the clutch, at least if you don’t have a racing gearbox, or superhuman skills like the professionals who can do that even without the clutch. Because of the reason, that I focus mainly on endurance racing, not operating the clutch doesn’t seem to be the best idea if you have some 23h of racing ahead of you, but if you are interested about that, I am sure, you will find a lot of videos online. But please be careful to filter out the 99 % of videos where people just do it wrong, talking about stuff they have no clue about.
Ok, so let’s assume, you have a manual car and want to use the clutch for the gear change, what do you need to do. In case of upshifting, you get off the accelerator pedal, engage the clutch, put your lever into the next gear position, get off the clutch in the way you would do that and you can go back on the accelerator. Makes kind of sense, right? Why do I even mention that? In case of a downshift, you do the same thing as well. But this time of course breaking all the time, while engaging the clutch, select the lower gear you want and get off the clutch, right? Sure, sounds quite easy. But one thing you should think about with your downshifts is the following. The moment you let go of the clutch, the engine speed will be adapted to the “wheel speed”, or the other way around, causing in some situations, for example if you are driving a rear wheel driven car, the locking up of your rear tires, due to the hard adaption of the speeds. A technique to stop this phenomenon from happening is of course to “heel and toe” or the other way around, which basically means to blip the accelerator pedal while the clutch is still engaged, making the adaption process of the two speeds very easy, because if you are doing it right, you can let go of the clutch in exactly that moment, when the engine speed is exactly at the new speed, it will get trough the lower gear, meaning that the difference in rpm’s is so small, that your rear tires will not lock up.
When do you need to shift?
While upshifting is more a question of your engine configuration and where it has its peak performance, downshifting is the more critical thing. But lets go step by step.
In case you are driving a fancy sportscar, it will actually tell you when it is time to get into the next gear. Either through some LED’s flashing, or a symbol on your dashboard or the screen in front of you. In case you reach that moment, you do the upshift, right? Not necessarily. In case you are just driving around, yes, of course you will do the upshift as demanded. But if you are on a racetrack, it always depends on the situation. Sometimes, it doesn’t make sense to do the upshift, because you need to break for the next corner in some couple of seconds anyways, which will get you nowhere with doing the shift, therefore, you just leave the gear and go into the rev limiter real quick. But that is something, you need to figure out on your own. I promise, it will get clearer later on in this season. So stay tuned, in case you are interested about these things.
If there is one rule you need to internalize, than this would be the rule. “Slow in, fast out“. Which means, that you are being the slowest directly at the apex. Sure, you may not know what the apex is anyways, therefore a short explanation. This is the point during the corner, where you are the closest to the other side of the corner where you are driving to. Meaning, if you are making a right turn, the point, where you are closest to the right side of the road.
In order to fulfill that rule, you need to decrease your speed before the apex, meaning that you have reached the corner speed and are already in the right gear, to start accelerating again as soon as possible. Don’t worry, if you have no clue what I am currently talking about. We will discuss that in detail in this season, but for the moment, you need to know, that doing the downshift is not just a randomly picked thing you can do at any time, but rather something you need to think about. Sometimes you really want to use the engine break, therefore going through the gears rather aggressively, while on other occasions, this might increase the risk of loosing the car in the rain. But we will come to that all.
And this is it for the Basics.
We have completed the first loop of the season, meaning we already finished the basics. Starting next time, we will go into the ADVANCED Mode, talking about the perfect line, the car behavior, cornering and the sim racing 1×1.
See you next time!
Engineer, Motorsport Enthusiast, becoming an Entrepreneur, Author and just different