ABS TC LC DRS race car electronic aids
EduTRACC

What are ABS, TC, DRS and Other Electronic Aids?

Whether in your everyday car or your race car, they most likely have some technology aiding you. So how about we go through them all so I can explain to you what they do.

ABS

What it Does

ABS is short for Anti-lock Braking System. Its job is to stop your wheels from locking up under heavy braking.

How it Does That

Brake Systems use oil pressure to facilitate braking. With ABS the brake pressure on wheels is lowered if the wheel were to lock up. In normal vehicles, this either works on each individual front wheel, while rear wheel brake pressure is lowered in tandem or on each wheel individually.

Benefits in Racing

A higher level of ABS means you are less likely to lock up your wheels under braking, protecting the tyres from flat spotting. Helps especially to consistently find the apex of a corner.

Risks in Racing

Higher ABS generally means less braking power. Less braking power means a longer braking distance. A longer braking distance, in turn, means you need an earlier braking spot, making your lap time slower.

TC

What it Does

Traction Control is a system that allows your vehicle to stay controllable while heavily accelerating. Meaning if your TC grabs hold, your wheels would spin out from too much gas.

How it Does That

There are several methods a car might use to enforce traction control. A car might:

  • apply brake force on the spinning wheel
  • reduce the delivered fuel to cylinders
  • reduce throttle input, if the car has drive-by-wire
  • reduce turbo boost in a turbocharged vehicle

While dynamic braking aims to counteract the acceleration, the other options try to reduce the torque delivered to the wheel to make it not spin.

Benefits in Racing

Greatly reduces the risk of under-or oversteering under heavy acceleration.

Risks in Racing

As with ABS, as torque is generally reduced, higher TC makes the acceleration slower, therefore allowing one to get to the same top speed later. Also increases lap time.

DRS

What it Does

Drag Reduction System allows a race car to reduce the aero drag. This allows for higher top speed.

How it Does That

Most of the time, this is achieved by reducing the rear wing angle. If the car has an adjustable front splitter, that might also be opened.

Benefits in Racing

The reduced aero drag enables higher top speed and faster acceleration at high speeds.

Risks in Racing

Greatly reduces grip. If you take a corner with DRS activated, you are going to spin out. So don’t enable it too early.

P2P

What it Does

Push to Pass is a system in race cars which allows for a short boost of power in the engine.

How it Does That

When the driver presses a button, usually on the steering wheel, a mechanism increases the power output of the engine. This happens either through selecting a different engine mapping or using stored up electrical energy.

Against what movies might say, no racing organisation allows using NOx or Nitrous Oxide as a power boost.

Benefits in Racing

By activating P2P, drivers and their cars can go quicker than the opposition. This helps to overtake. That’s why in IndyCar, the effect is called the “Overtake Button”.

Risks in Racing

Of course, P2P is preferably not used in cornering situations. Otherwise the increase in output power might surprise the driver and result in oversteering.

LC

What it Does

Launch Control is an effect in racing that helps the driver to get off the line quicker.

How it Does That

When LC is engaged, a software in the car regulates the input of the accelerator pedal. This way the driver may not spin the wheels while accelerating or risk damaging any components.

Benefits in Racing

If the software is developed well, the start can be as optimal as possible, every time. In this case, the system makes starts much more reliable and less prone to errors by drivers.

Risks in Racing

There is practically no risk included with LC.

If you want to learn more about racing technology or techniques, be sure to follow our eduTRACC article series here on the website.

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Julian Strasser

Interested in Motorsports and Maker-stuff.

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