FKI Oct. Article Preview – Give Feedback to Go FasterBy
Why would I write an article on feedback? Why would you read it? Let’s examine these questions from top down. Name one top line driver whose engineer and/or chief mechanic says he doesn’t give great feedback. At that level, everyone can drive, what separates the field is the fastest guys are also the most technical in how they relay what’s going on with the car to their engineer.
Perhaps looking at the issue from the bottom up will help. When I started shifter karting, I used to go out with a buddy of mine who was a good driver but was horrible initially on giving feedback. So, we’d go out for a session, come in, I’d ask him how is kart was and he’d reply, “It’s not good, it’s sliding.” Well ok, sliding where? What part of the turn? Which end of the kart, front or back? I think you get my point.
To jump to the opposite end of the spectrum, in my second year of racing Opel Lotus in Europe I was lucky enough to be teammates with Derek Higgins for a handful of races. I learned a lot from Derek especially since Derek’s dad, Vince, ran Jackie Stewart’s Opel Lotus team the year before for drivers Gil DeFerran and David Coulthard. We were in our hauler for our first team debrief and I was struggling to convey what the car was doing to my team manager when Derek grabs a track map and writes T/I, M/C, and EXT (Turn-In, Mid-Corner, and Exit) on every turn and hands it to me stating, “This is how my dad broke down every session with Gil and David last year. Go through this map, corner by corner, and write down what the car is doing at each of these points of the turn and we’ll go from there.” This is one of the more productive events of my racing career and I haven’t looked back since…