Since DRIVE 7TENTHS is tailored to performance driving on both road and track, there are three fundamental steering techniques to master. Before explaining them, it is worth considering how to hold the steering wheel and then discussing some bad habits.
Gripping the Wheel
Just like the importance of how a golfer holds a club and addresses the tee, how a driver sits in the car and grips the steering wheel is an absolute fundamental of performance driving. The majority of drivers on the public roads have poor positioning and lazy habits when it comes to gripping the wheel. Holding the wheel at ‘ten-to-two’, or better, ‘quarter-to-three’ is a good starting point.
The most common bad habits for road drivers start with poor or lazy grips. These are normally supplemented by an arm on the window and a hand on the gear knob or handbrake lever. Many drivers also allow the wheel to slide back through the fingers when unwinding the steering lock exiting a junction or tight corner. To maximise control, the steering wheel should always be used with two hands unless changing gear, with a quarter-to-three grip being the best option to start from.
The images below show some of the ‘classic’ bad habits typical of the average road driver.
Another habit to eliminate is ‘dry steering’. This is turning the steering wheel when the car is stationary which can cause damage to the tyres and extra stress in the steering linkage since much more load is put into the system.
You may feel that using a ‘proper’ grip for performance driving and a ‘lazy’ grip for commuting is fine, but consider what happens during hitting a pothole, a sudden and unexpected tyre blow-out or needing to avoid an obstacle during an emergency. A lazy grip will always put you on the back foot when it comes to reacting.
If you are reading this, most likely, you wish to learn and develop your skills so it is important to make a conscious effort to break all of the above bad habits. In order to master steering and maintain high standards you should aim to use these grips and techniques for all of the time in order to create new ‘excellent’ habits. Mastering all three methods and when to use them will significantly improve your directional control of the vehicle and the safety of you, your passengers and other road/track users. Furthermore, the ability to blend techniques and transform your steering into an art will significantly improve the pleasure you gain from the driving experience.
Fundamental Steering Techniques
For road driving, the main two techniques to cover the majority of situations are ‘fixed grip’ steering and ‘pull-push’ steering. For high-speed steering during low-speed manoeuvring or skid situations, ‘rotational’ steering can be useful.
For circuit driving, ‘pull-push’ steering is best avoided and ‘fixed grip’ steering is the core technique. If the driver experiences a large oversteer skid, ‘rotational’ steering may be required. For drifting, these three techniques can be used, but can be blended among other discipline-specific options.