#304 Racing is life – driving techniques – S3 E16 – Racing strategy

“To achieve anything in this game, you must be prepared to dabble on the boundary of disaster.”

Sir Stirling Moss

To dabble on the boundary of disaster? To accept your faith? To give everything you have? Even your life?

That racing is more than just sitting in a car and fooling around, should be clear to all of us already. But can we even grasp how much strategic preparation there actually is? Sure, we see a team pushing a car to the starting line and sure, the driver might interact with the team somehow during the race and sure, the team is changing the tires and stuff. But what we see in TV or as visitors at the track can hardly be all, right? This is not what is actually going on, but instead just the outcome of the strategy the team is using.

In racing the strategy is way more important than anything else. Sure, someone might argue that everything is important in the world of racing, but in fact, everything depends on the strategy.

How much risks does a driver take? Which set up does the team use? When is the car coming in for a refuel?

All those decisions need to be made before the race, during the race and after the race. Constantly. Why? Because conditions are changing. The weather, the strategy of the opponent teams, the car handling, the tires, the driver, the track, an incident on the track or whatever it is.

When the strategy doesn’t work, sure, we as the spectators will notice. And if the strategy is actually brilliant, sure, we will see the car somehow winning. But do we really get any kind of insights? Do we get any kind of information?

Not really, right? Even though this would be the way more interesting part about racing sometimes.

A good race strategy needs to …

  • be adjustable
  • be able to take decisions fast
  • look at the whole picture
  • think about the end goal
  • reduce the risks to a minimum
  • motivate the team to work even harder

When it comes to strategies, I guess I am just a little bit more enthusiastic than other people. Why? Maybe because I work with a lot of strategies all the time. In racing, it is nothing else compared to all the other fields in life. Situations change, requirements change, positions change, incidents happen, machines doesn’t work, parts fail, people making mistakes, and the list goes on and on.

The perfect race strategy is something you can write down on a piece of paper before the race? No! Such a thing doesn’t exist! It can never be an upfront planned list! Sure, you might have a kind of a checklist that leads you through the race, but still, there are so many decisions to take on the spot, that you can hardly plan this all upfront.

If you are interested in racing strategies, well, why don’t you watch some races and have a closer look? The difference between sprint racing and endurance racing will be obvious right in the moment. The longer the race, the more important the race strategy.

If you take a little 20 minutes sprint series with no tire change, no refueling and no nothing. The team may just drive up to the limit and manages the tire wear and the brakes. But if we are talking about a 24 h race, well, the race strategy gets a whole lot more complicated than that. You will have a need to change drivers, tires and fuel, you might need to share your garage with five other cars that can’t drive into the pits at the same time. There might be a lot of weather changes, accidents and other things that can cause a need to change your strategy every now and then.

A good race strategy is like an old professor, experienced, intelligent, focused, ignoring criticism, well organized, talking about past times and reflect everything constantly.

For sure, in order to win a race you might need to have a successful race strategy, but in the beginning, you are simply put not experienced enough to do this properly. Therefore do a good benchmark and look at how the others are doing it.

Learn from the best and you will become one of them.

See you next time!

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