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How To Drive: With downforce and slicks

4 weeks ago

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Writer:

Steve Sutcliffe | Journalist

Date:

28 March 2024

This one won’t be for everyone, true. But even if you never go anywhere near the cockpit of a racing car with downforce and slicks I’d bet that, being a Ti reader, you quite enjoy watching people who drive such cars for a living. If so, I imagine you might be intrigued to know what a car that has enough aerodynamic grip to stick it to your ceiling at 140mph is like to drive.

Are cars with even more grip than go easier or more difficult to drive, for instance? Is there an obvious subjective difference between mechanical (tyre) and aerodynamic grip? What happens when aerodynamic grip runs out? And can you tell when a car with big aero starts to let go – like you can at, say, 60mph when a normal fast road car starts to lose mechanical grip – or does downforce simply disappear at some point, firing you into the ether at two and a half times the speed you can swear at?

And how do you bring a set of slick tyres up to temperature without either falling off or ruining them in the first few corners? Can you actually destroy a set of slicks in the first few corners anyway, or are most tales you hear about such things merely apocryphal?

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