Cars travel at their fastest speeds when moving in a straight line, and Formula 1 is no different. F1 racers drive at over 215 mph on the straightest parts of the track. But when it comes to turning around tight corners, that speed just isn’t possible. To avoid spinning out and crashing, racers have to slow down and use physics to craft the most efficient turns — all while retaining the greatest amount of speed. Ideally, the way they turn will give them a leg up against the competition.
The most efficient path through any corner (or set of corners) is generally referred to as the “ideal racing line.”
This line changes depending on the path of the track before and after the curve, but the goal is always to spend as little time as possible in the turn. That means using the entire width of the track to minimize the angle the car will take around the turn, ultimately allowing drivers to carry the most speed through it.
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