12 pro tips: How to find the racing line on any corner

6 min reading time
The racing line – something every racing driver looks for, but not everyone knows how to find. Our expert reveals her top 12 tips on how to find the racing line and take your racing skills to a whole new level.

22 August 2019

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Do your rivals seem to outstrip you effortlessly on the go-kart track? If so, it’s rarely about the vehicles. What’s much more likely is that your rivals are better at finding the racing line. Even in professional motor racing, the racing line decides who wins and who loses. As a result, drivers and teams intensively analyze the optimal route of each racetrack to get to the finish line as quickly as possible.

Claudia Hürtgen is one of Germany’s best racing drivers. She won the German Touring Car Challenge, the German Production Cars Championship and the German Endurance Championship driving for BMW on the most difficult circuit in the world, the Nordschleife (or North Loop) at the Nürburgring, as well as the 24-hour races at Dubai and Daytona (➜ Le Mans: 24 Hours of Thrills). Since 2012, Hürtgen has been Chief Instructor at the BMW Driving Experience.

According to Hürtgen, the search for the racing line never ends. “You have to constantly readjust and adapt the racing line to changing conditions,” the experienced racing driver explains. A number of factors affect the racing line: driving style (aggressive or defensive), road conditions (e.g. grippy vs. slippery asphalt) as well as the weather (dry or wet).

The key to finding the racing line is practice, practice, practice.
Claudia Hürtgen

Chief Instructor, BMW Driving Experience

© Lucas Pripfl
Claudia Hürtgen, Chief Instructor, BMW Driving Experience.

Racing tips – learn from the pros

At the BMW M Race Track Experience, you learn how to drive a car quickly and safely around a racetrack at more than 15 international circuits. Among other things, the instructors will show you the racing line on each track.

Nail those apex corners with the BMW M Race Track Experience.

Finding the racing line — Claudia Hürtgen’s 12 pro tips


Use the full width of the road. That's what it’s there for.


Your line of sight determines where you drive. When you look in any direction, you will subconsciously steer the vehicle the same way.


Patiently feel your way towards getting comfortable with finding the racing line and the right speed. However, only increase your speed if you feel safe doing so.


Racing tips: The key points of a corner

1 Braking point: Reduce your speed until you reach the turning point.

2 Turning point: Here you release the brake, turn in and aim for the apex point.

3 Apex point: (a.k.a. clipping point): Here you unlock the steering again.

4 Exit point: Straighten the steering wheel and accelerate again.


Memorize the course in your own time. The points of reference and braking points are crucial. Determine the turning point, apex point and exit point for each turn.


As a general rule, take corners from the outside in. The apex point is your point of reference on the inside of the corner. When you’ve passed it, your eyes should look outward to the exit of the corner. Let yourself be carried out, unlock the steering and accelerate again at the end of the corner.


Every little steering correction disrupts the vehicle and costs time.


Don’t play with the gas pedal. Wait for the right moment to accelerate out of the corner. In most cases, you can accelerate as soon as you unlock the steering.

What is the racing line?

The racing line is the line which, if you follow it, will take you around the racetrack as quickly as possible. It depends on many factors: the vehicle, the driving style, the terrain and even the weather. The racing line is not always the shortest route, and for many corners there are multiple equally fast routes.


Know your hairpin corner from your chicane or your esses
1 / 5
A classic: The 90-degree corner. Found on every racetrack, with slight modifications. Allows greater corner speed than many other types of corner.
2 / 5
Loved by drivers, esses can often be taken with a beautiful, smooth flow.
3 / 5
Tight spot: A hairpin corner is usually the slowest part of a racetrack.
4 / 5
Exacting: A double-apex corner is particularly challenging for race car drivers.
5 / 5
A chicane has only one purpose ‒ to slow drivers down. That’s why they feel a little off-kilter compared to other types of corner.

Every corner has its own individual racing line. Work out what it is. The next step is to put these individual driving lines together interdependently to form a complete race route. You have to do this because the racing line for each turn depends on the preceding and following sections of the track.


The shortest route is not always the fastest. Taking a turn wider may help you get to the finish line faster if you position your vehicle better for the next section. This is especially important when one turn is followed by another, which is known as a combination corner.


The racing line through a combination corner

The aim is to get out of the second corner at maximum speed. So, for a combination corner, think backwards: How do you have to drive to get back on the gas as early as possible in the second corner?

1 You steer into turn A on the racing line; the apex point remains the same.

2 When you exit turn A, don’t let yourself be taken to the outer edge of the track; stay in the middle.

3 This way, you can better position your vehicle to take turn B.

Summary: You sacrifice the perfect racing line for turn A in order to take turn B perfectly and exit at the highest possible speed.


Take irregularities in the road surface, curbs, and the texture of the asphalt into account when you choose your racing line and corner speed.


Take wider arcs in wet weather. Most corners are inclined inwards, meaning that water collects on the inside of the turn. There is also more rubber abrasion, and both of these facts increase the slipperiness of the track.


Armed with this knowledge, there’s one more thing you need: Practice, practice, practice ‒ lap after lap. Always be on the lookout for the perfect racing line!


Variation of the racing line

Sometimes it makes sense to deviate from the racing line. For example, if you want to make up time with a more attacking line.

1 Set the braking point later for this line.

2 Steer later and – most importantly – harder.

3 On this line, you can steer your car into a corner radius that unlocks earlier and begin accelerating again more quickly.


From Spa to Monza – see famous corners in our gallery
© Spa-Francorchamps
1 / 5
Considered one of Formula 1’s most heart-in-mouth corners, this is the EAU ROUGE (technically the Raidillon de l’Eau Rouge) on Belgium’s famous Spa circuit. Heading downhill, drivers exit a straight into a slight left-hand corner in a depression. This is quickly followed by a sharp uphill right-hander. Compression and lateral acceleration are extremely high on this legendary corner, which F1 drivers take following the racing line at full throttle, meaning at speeds up to 185 mph (300 km/h).
© Mark Vaughn / Autoweek
2 / 5
Even pro racers find it hard to get the racing line in this combination corner – the famous CORKSCREW at the Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey, California. The left-right-combination winds down a hill like a corkscrew. Coming from a slightly uphill right-hander, the driver has to brake and drive blindly into an inward-sloping left turn. Then, after going over a little camber, turn 90 degrees again ‒ but to the right, into a curve that also tilts inwards. What a roller coaster ride, and what a challenge!
© Robert Kah
3 / 5
There are 73 corners and curved sections on the Nordschleife (or North Loop) at the Nürburgring in Germany’s Eifel mountains – with pleasant German names like Bergwerk (“Mine”), Schwalbenschwanz (“Swallow’s Tail”) and Brünnchen (“Little Well”). All of them are famous – or rather infamous. The queen of corners at the “Green Hell” (Jackie Stewart’s nickname for the track) is the legendary CAROUSEL (a.k.a. Caracciola). This banked turn is a narrow left-hand hairpin, the inside of which is not paved, but covered with concrete slabs. Traveling at just 50 mph (80 km/h) – depending on the vehicle –, drivers enter this short rough section hoping to hit the racing line to take as much momentum as possible toward the steep Hohe Acht right-hander.
© Paul Gilham / Staff / Getty Images
4 / 5
For our next highlight corner, there’s only one thing that counts: location, location, location. The PISCINE ("swimming pool") section of the Grand Prix street circuit in the Principality of Monaco gets its name from a swimming pool next to the track, right by the harbor. The corner itself, like all the corners and bends in Monaco, draws its charm from the fact that there are no run-off zones. This makes it extremely difficult for the driver, with mistakes usually punished by ending a driver’s race. In Monaco, it’s a case of stick to the racing line or pay the price!
© Monza Eni Circuit
5 / 5
Monza's old-school racetrack in Italy is one of the last remaining high-speed circuits on the F1 calendar: it’s full throttle over 80 percent of the time. But even a track like this has to have some corners, and that’s where the PARABOLICA comes into play. This broad, 180-degree corner connects two of the track’s long straights. Drivers approach the giant turn at full throttle, maintain some corner speed and are then able to go at full speed again early at the end as the corner opens out.

Use these tips only for driving on closed racing tracks, and only under professional guidance if you’re a beginner. These driving tips are not suitable for public roads.

Illustrations/Animations: Cyprian Lothringer

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