Senna’s unique throttle technique (Honda demo)

Senna’s unique throttle technique (Honda demo)

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Discussion

RB Will

5,628 posts

181 months

Friday 3rd May
quotequote all
Gotta give it to the old rally drivers for pure pedal ballet

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqREtbLe4sY

if its loafers you want see a load of the old Best Motoring stuff hehe

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6AMrpcz-zU

EDLT

15,130 posts

147 months

Saturday 4th May
quotequote all
ELUSIVEJIM said:
Kraken said:
https://alandovecoaching.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/...

I can imagine if you tried it in most modern race cars the computers would have a meltdown.
Very interesting.

Thank you for posting.

I doubt it but does any of the current F1 drivers stab the throttle?
Massa used to, Brundle commented at the time that all it would do was trigger the traction control. I remember wondering at the time if he was attempting to copy Senna.

markcoznottz

4,960 posts

165 months

Saturday 4th May
quotequote all
ELUSIVEJIM said:
rallycross said:
I always thought his unusual on off the throttle technique was specific to the turbo era F1 cars.

But here he is doing it (and it being analysed) in a lovely old clip of him testing an early race prepared vtec Works Civic.

So was he using this method in all his cars?

Very unusual method.

Watch learn and enjoy!

https://youtu.be/vKLywfzi0xU
That was a clip I haven't seen before. Thank you for pointing it out.

This is Jonathan Palmer talking about the same subject.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nEHnuoQ6wY
Gives more credibility with palmers input. What isn't made clear is if he still used this technique in 93-94. I don't think he needed to as the McLaren that year had a very sophisticated traction control where you went full throttle and let it do its thing. Ironically his greatest victory at donnington was mainly due to this system, probably not something he would like to be remembered for. What is interesting is that senna seemed, just like Schumacher, to be as fast with a manual box as with a semi auto. I.e. Right foot vs left foot braking. The 92 Spanish Grand Prix where Schumacher was catching mansell in the rain was a first glimpse of just how good he was. The last win for a manual gearbox F1 car was schumachers victory at spa in 92.

It's interesting seeing the evolution of driver eras, schumachers skill at overlapping brake and throttle definitely payed dividends with a two pedal set up. I think both he and senna thought outside the box and both karted as much as possible away from F1. This wasn't normal at the time, as coulthard and barrichello and perhaps others struggled with left foot braking. Coulthard in his book says he didn't do it properly until 1999! Which seems counterproductive with a two pedal car.

LaurasOtherHalf

14,816 posts

137 months

Saturday 4th May
quotequote all
markcoznottz said:
Gives more credibility with palmers input. What isn't made clear is if he still used this technique in 93-94. I don't think he needed to as the McLaren that year had a very sophisticated traction control where you went full throttle and let it do its thing. Ironically his greatest victory at donnington was mainly due to this system, probably not something he would like to be remembered for.
Hence why Senna himself never rated it as anything special, only his and the Williams and Benneton had the system.

You can actually here it clearly on the coverage of the race that was shown on Sky last week.

Personally, even if he didn’t, I did. Regardless of traction control, it didn’t have stability control and did nothing to hunt out the part of the track which had most grip.


markcoznottz

4,960 posts

165 months

Saturday 4th May
quotequote all
LaurasOtherHalf said:
markcoznottz said:
Gives more credibility with palmers input. What isn't made clear is if he still used this technique in 93-94. I don't think he needed to as the McLaren that year had a very sophisticated traction control where you went full throttle and let it do its thing. Ironically his greatest victory at donnington was mainly due to this system, probably not something he would like to be remembered for.
Hence why Senna himself never rated it as anything special, only his and the Williams and Benneton had the system.

You can actually here it clearly on the coverage of the race that was shown on Sky last week.

Personally, even if he didn’t, I did. Regardless of traction control, it didn’t have stability control and did nothing to hunt out the part of the track which had most grip.
One of those races where they were using tc that ruined the engine sound of those gorgeous 3.5 engines. I was under the impression that the Benetton didn't have tc in that race,
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markcoznottz

4,960 posts

165 months

Saturday 4th May
quotequote all
https://youtu.be/SXDM-zjrszo

1991 in car camera Montreal. Race lap on full tanks interestingly enough he's not stabbing at the throttle here.

chunder27

1,877 posts

149 months

Saturday 4th May
quotequote all
The Benetton used a slightly different system that did not cut the spark, hence why they could get away with it in 94!!

Steve Rance

4,928 posts

172 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
He used both the brake and the throttle to rotate the car. I was a racing instructor in the 90’s. Instruction hasn’t changed massively over the years - essentially it’s the Jackie Stewart ‘smooth is everything’ approach. Certainly, if a driver can drive to threashold using this method he or she will be very successful. Mine certainly was in both single seater, sports cars and tin tops. Later I raced 911’s. I learned to be very quick in a 911 you needed to use weight transfer to rotate the car. To do this you need to begin to bend the Jackie Stewart methodology. I found half a second this way by manipulating my braking technique and taking time from other drivers under braking and into apex. The technique took a long time to develop because it was at odds with everything that I’d been taught and had subsequently taught to others. Ayrton Senna used both the brake and the throttle to find time on the way in and AND the way out of a corner. It is absolutely contrary to the Jackie Steward philosophy but extremely effective. It relies on extremely high levels of car control, dynamic and mechanical understanding. It also relies on certain set up and tyre characteristics. If he were driving modern F1 cars, I suspect his technique would have evolved. The tyre wear characteristics would not suit the intentional breaking of lateral grip several times in the corner and the adjustable diff systems already rotate the car pretty much for the driver anyway - which would render Senna’s supreme talent somewhat impotent. I refer to an earlier post explaining that Senna did not use the technique on full tanks. The weight of the car would have taken too much tyre performance away too quickly. The wet conditions at Donnington would have allowed the technique to be used immediately.

Either way, if I were a coaching a young driver now, I’d be doing all that I could to help him understand, develop and master the Senna technique. In my opinion he was a unique talent

LaurasOtherHalf

14,816 posts

137 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Great input Steve, whenever I get my next 911 I must search you out for some tuition.

I’ve always stuck rigidly to the Jackie method but when driving 911s on track I always feel I’m missing a certain something. It’s hidden a bit in the 997RS as because it’s not my car, I hold back a fair bit!

The only car I felt I could experiment the Senna technique was in my old little MR2 Spyder, it was so easy to catch when it went wrong you could play around a bit more.

Augustus Windsock

1,671 posts

96 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
My initial reply was going to be
“I don’t care about his technique, ANY video of him driving is worth watching!”
But that is tempered by the comments about Sir JS and his mantra about driving smoothly. He always alluded to Jim Clark’s ability to drive at the limit but be incredibly smooth.
Their driving techniques are worth watching too but I’d agree that if they were racing today they would have adapted.
As an aside, does anyone remember the post-race (?) interview when schumacher claimed to be able to modulate the throttle TWELVE TIMES PER SECOND’? I remember trying to move MY foot as many times as I could in a second and failed dismally at around 5-6...!
I smelled bovine excrement in his claim.
I’m another that was admonished on a Police driving course for crossing my hands (knitting, as they used to call it) in a tight bend. Imagine the instructors head would have exploded if I’d tried to change gear with the ‘wrong’ hand too....
I’ve often wondered if Senna, Prost and co would stack up against today’s drivers, and other than Hamilton and Vettel ... perhaps that should be saved for another thread.

SturdyHSV

6,280 posts

108 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Was there not a PH article some time ago where the author went on a driving course (one of the cars was possibly an Astra?) and there was an unusual technique of a relatively sudden initial input to the car for changing direction before then being smooth and so on?

Could these stabs of throttle be effectively attempting to steal little extra bits of performance from the tyre as the weight shifts in response, but then immediately pulled back as he knows there wouldn't be enough grip there to actually maintain that level of demand?

I believe with cadence braking the initial input is to a level that if maintained would cause a lock up, is it perhaps a reflection of the physics involved with weight transfer and the nature of rubber and the grip available etc, and is something that is far more widely used under braking, possibly less so with direction change, and then significantly less so with throttle application?

Just food for thought really as I was reminded of that old PH article that I've not managed to find getmecoat

chunder27

1,877 posts

149 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
I remember many years ago playing a sim called Gt Legends.

In it the 911 was certainly a quick car, but as said above, you had to change your style to drive it quickly. If you drive it like everything else you would be slow, a masterpiece by the developers to manage to achieve this in a game.

Use the light front to turn in quicker and later, then use the immense traction to power out far earlier than your rivals.

I used to trail brake a lot, still do, a legacy of my initial gaming being hundreds of hours on Race 07 where you used fwd cars a lot, I am still far quicker in a fwd than a rwd car. The rwd cars in that game I was hopeless in, but always seemed to set the quickest times in hot lap sessions etc. It is just what you are used to.

You couldn't trail brake in a 911 really, and be really quick, you had to get it all done, turn in quick and late then catch the rear with the throttle, when it worked it was magical. But you had to drive this alone all the time to really get it right.

I have never really driven rwd on the road, or in racing, have only used fwd, so maybe that is it. Never been able to afford racing or anything.
only time I tried messing was in a Mk2 MR2 and it nearly spun me round on a wet roundabout, bloody thing was twitchy as hell! So I left it alone after that!

Norfolkandchance

1,501 posts

140 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Steve Rance said:
He used both the brake and the throttle to rotate the car. I was a racing instructor in the 90’s. Instruction hasn’t changed massively over the years - essentially it’s the Jackie Stewart ‘smooth is everything’ approach. Certainly, if a driver can drive to threashold using this method he or she will be very successful. Mine certainly was in both single seater, sports cars and tin tops. Later I raced 911’s. I learned to be very quick in a 911 you needed to use weight transfer to rotate the car.
I remember LJK Setright saying something similar about the smooth-above-all-else approach. He pointed out that having ridden in a car on circuit with Fangio (how amazing would that have been?) he had seen the great man deliberately unsettle the car with very abrupt and jerky applications of any of the brake, throttle and steering through the corner.

Once I'm as quick as JYS I'll start to work on it.

(You can do it to an extent in very understeery road cars by suddenly applying a brief jerk of extra lock. Sometimes this will loosen the rear.)


motorhole

472 posts

161 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Steve Rance said:
He used both the brake and the throttle to rotate the car. I was a racing instructor in the 90’s. Instruction hasn’t changed massively over the years - essentially it’s the Jackie Stewart ‘smooth is everything’ approach. Certainly, if a driver can drive to threashold using this method he or she will be very successful. Mine certainly was in both single seater, sports cars and tin tops. Later I raced 911’s. I learned to be very quick in a 911 you needed to use weight transfer to rotate the car. To do this you need to begin to bend the Jackie Stewart methodology. I found half a second this way by manipulating my braking technique and taking time from other drivers under braking and into apex. The technique took a long time to develop because it was at odds with everything that I’d been taught and had subsequently taught to others. Ayrton Senna used both the brake and the throttle to find time on the way in and AND the way out of a corner. It is absolutely contrary to the Jackie Steward philosophy but extremely effective. It relies on extremely high levels of car control, dynamic and mechanical understanding. It also relies on certain set up and tyre characteristics. If he were driving modern F1 cars, I suspect his technique would have evolved. The tyre wear characteristics would not suit the intentional breaking of lateral grip several times in the corner and the adjustable diff systems already rotate the car pretty much for the driver anyway - which would render Senna’s supreme talent somewhat impotent. I refer to an earlier post explaining that Senna did not use the technique on full tanks. The weight of the car would have taken too much tyre performance away too quickly. The wet conditions at Donnington would have allowed the technique to be used immediately.

Either way, if I were a coaching a young driver now, I’d be doing all that I could to help him understand, develop and master the Senna technique. In my opinion he was a unique talent
Could be analogous to getting a kart around the corner in the wet. Smoothly smoothly just gives you understeer. You have to use the brake aggressively on turn in to rotate the kart then throttle round the corner.

Whilst this throttle stabbing technique is very different to that, I wonder if the goal is the same, i.e. finding another way to get the car to rotate whilst minimising reliance on steering - because the more you steer, the more energy is being wasted forcing the car to go in a direction it doesn't want to.

sidewinder500

63 posts

35 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
SturdyHSV said:
Was there not a PH article some time ago where the author went on a driving course (one of the cars was possibly an Astra?) and there was an unusual technique of a relatively sudden initial input to the car for changing direction before then being smooth and so on?

Could these stabs of throttle be effectively attempting to steal little extra bits of performance from the tyre as the weight shifts in response, but then immediately pulled back as he knows there wouldn't be enough grip there to actually maintain that level of demand?

I believe with cadence braking the initial input is to a level that if maintained would cause a lock up, is it perhaps a reflection of the physics involved with weight transfer and the nature of rubber and the grip available etc, and is something that is far more widely used under braking, possibly less so with direction change, and then significantly less so with throttle application?

Just food for thought really as I was reminded of that old PH article that I've not managed to find getmecoat
Yes, it is Rob Wilson, driver coach extraordinaire...

jas xjr

11,162 posts

180 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
It may have been in the eighties and my memory is not the best. Car and car conversions flew senna out to a Welsh quarry to drive a rally car. He was impressive straight away.
The general consensus was that you either had car control or not, regardless of discipline.

Steve Rance

4,928 posts

172 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
sidewinder500 said:
Yes, it is Rob Wilson, driver coach extraordinaire...
And all round good egg. Brilliant instructor and lovely guy

markcoznottz

4,960 posts

165 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Steve Rance said:
He used both the brake and the throttle to rotate the car. I was a racing instructor in the 90’s. Instruction hasn’t changed massively over the years - essentially it’s the Jackie Stewart ‘smooth is everything’ approach. Certainly, if a driver can drive to threashold using this method he or she will be very successful. Mine certainly was in both single seater, sports cars and tin tops. Later I raced 911’s. I learned to be very quick in a 911 you needed to use weight transfer to rotate the car. To do this you need to begin to bend the Jackie Stewart methodology. I found half a second this way by manipulating my braking technique and taking time from other drivers under braking and into apex. The technique took a long time to develop because it was at odds with everything that I’d been taught and had subsequently taught to others. Ayrton Senna used both the brake and the throttle to find time on the way in and AND the way out of a corner. It is absolutely contrary to the Jackie Steward philosophy but extremely effective. It relies on extremely high levels of car control, dynamic and mechanical understanding. It also relies on certain set up and tyre characteristics. If he were driving modern F1 cars, I suspect his technique would have evolved. The tyre wear characteristics would not suit the intentional breaking of lateral grip several times in the corner and the adjustable diff systems already rotate the car pretty much for the driver anyway - which would render Senna’s supreme talent somewhat impotent. I refer to an earlier post explaining that Senna did not use the technique on full tanks. The weight of the car would have taken too much tyre performance away too quickly. The wet conditions at Donnington would have allowed the technique to be used immediately.

Either way, if I were a coaching a young driver now, I’d be doing all that I could to help him understand, develop and master the Senna technique. In my opinion he was a unique talent
Didn't some ex F1 drivers struggle in the carrera cup cars? Can't find any info but vaguely remember Alan Mnish not getting the hang of driving them? .

Gemaeden

115 posts

56 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
thebraketester said:
So is what Jackie stewart said wrong?
Only if you're faster than him. Until that time you're probably better off taking his advice.

Steve Rance

4,928 posts

172 months

Sunday 5th May
quotequote all
Gemaeden said:
Only if you're faster than him. Until that time you're probably better off taking his advice.
Absolutely. A driver must learn his trade and be ultra smooth and be able to drive to thread hold through every part of the cornering process before even thinking about changing that approach.