Ayrton Senna used a bizarre throttle technique to race where he would stamp on and off the throttle as he was exiting a corner.
Describing Ayrton Senna as a fast driver is probably an understatement. On top of all his greatness and talent came the unusual driving technique that made him even faster on the track.
He used to push the throttle on and off rapidly and quite aggressively as he was exiting a corner. While it was a bizarre technique Senna made it work. However, the question of why did he do it and whether would it work in modern F1 cars remains.
Former racing driver Jonathan Palmer was a test driver at McLaren during Senna’s time. Explaining the Brazillian’s unusual technique, Palmer said, “I spent six years racing against Senna in F1, but it really wasn’t until I joined McLaren as a test driver in 1990 that I had the chance to see exactly how fast he was and exactly how he did it.”
“Normally I do the first day or two pounding around getting down to what I thought was a very respectable time. Then Senna came along and within 10 laps, he would have been a second faster.”
“On acceleration out of the corner, Senna’s unique technique is equally obvious. Where I would progressively increase the throttle opening Ayrton would immediately start stabbing at it. Pushing to get his foot hard down earlier and therefore exit faster.”
“Putting both of these together means that with this example he pulls out two-tenths of a second through this section alone. And that’s just one small part of the whole lap.”
Why did Ayrton Senna do it?
While most drivers try to be super smooth on the accelerator as they come close to a corner, Senna did the exact opposite.
The reason why drivers refrain from doing it is that the drivers don’t want to transfer too much weight around the car. Because of the suspension, when the brake is applied the nose of the car goes down and when the car is accelerated the rear squats.
This causes understeer and oversteer around the corner and the brake traction to slide earlier than the driver wants.
The second reason is that the more aggressive the driver is with the accelerator the more likely it is to spin up the wheel. As soon as the wheel spins, the driver fails to accelerate the car out of the corner as quickly as they can.
Many people say that Senna used this unusual technique because of his days driving a turbo car. The idea behind this was that a driver can spool up the turbo with a blip on the accelerator pedal to reduce the turbo lag.
But, the Brazillian driver started using this throttle technique way before he even got into the F1. He used the same technique in karting and he probably developed a habit at an early age to drive that way.