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Would you want to drive your Tesla on track?

Discussion in 'The UK and Ireland' started by Electric Dream, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. Electric Dream

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    #1 Electric Dream, Jan 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
    After seeing the result of the Tesla Corsa event in the U.S. where they got 50 Model 3s along to drive on track, it's got me wondering if there will be demand for this in the UK?

    I expect it's going to be the Model 3 owners here as well, as it obviously lends itself better to track driving.

    There are some pros and cons when it comes to EVs venturing on track. The first issue is going to be sorting out some charging at or very near each circuit, but in time that will get better.

    Let's face it, a lot of Model 3 owners won't have had access to a car this fast and capable before, so being able to explore the limits in a safe, controlled environment with access to instructors and setup help could be attractive to those who want to make the most of their new toy.

    So who would be up for it?
     
  2. Fellsteruk

    Fellsteruk Active Member

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    I’d be up for up :)

    The EV event in June last year had owners giving test drives on a runway. Was the fully charged event.

    Not a proper race trace but defo a chance to open it up :p
     
  3. themetz

    themetz Member

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    Maybe for a little pootle, but not for a proper razz.
    Did that once in my RS5 and regretted it when I shredded my tyres and buggered front suspension
     
  4. Electric Dream

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    Hmmmm, I'm interested to know how you managed to do that on a track day!
     
  5. 12Pack

    12Pack ..

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    Definitely not - no more than I would a Range Rover. I love my MS as a family / daily driver that has fantastic acceleration from a dig. But compared to my lightweight ICE performance cars - it has glacial turn-in, poor braking and limited top end. I'll wait for the roadster.
     
  6. Peteski

    Peteski Active Member

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    We know the MS is not really a track car for several reasons, but the Model 3P could well be a different animal given it's considerably lower weight and promise of handling the heat. Actually I find the MS has pretty decent handling on the road as Chris Harris discovered on his TG road test (go to 9:00 for the road test part).

    Chris Harris Drives: the Tesla Model S P100D

    As for the Roadster, that's going to be a serious heavyweight beast with a 200 kWh pack and will probably make the MS feel nimble. Obviously it will be epic in a straight line.
     
  7. Electric Dream

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    Yes, I think the Model 3 is best suited for track days, but if an S or X owner wanted to join in they would be most welcome!

    I'll be taking my 3 to a track as soon as I can after getting it, so although I suspect initial numbers will be small, it would be great to get a group of Tesla owners along at the same time to create a little piece of history.
     
  8. 12Pack

    12Pack ..

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    Guys, by all means take your Tesla’s to the track. Perhaps when you’re there try a couple of real performance cars. You’ll be amazed how a even low powered light car will carry so much more speed in the corners, let alone something like a Mclaren, That’s what track driving is about.

    You’re better off taking a Tesla to the drag strip where the weight over all four wheels helps with the launch rather than hinder and braking is not a factor.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure you’ll do fine on track compared to something like a BMW M car, but that is just another family car with a stiff suspension.

    Sorry, if I sound rude, but as someone to is on track regularly, I’m always a bit peeved by some of the lumps I need to drive around.
     
  9. Electric Dream

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    Not everyone wants a dedicated track/race car or even something like a Caterham and a lot of drivers benefit from taking their road cars on track by learning better or more advanced driving technique.

    It's not necessarily about how fast you can go.

    As you say yourself, track driving can be about learning to carry speed into the corners in a low powered, light car, but that doesn't mean you can't also learn a lot in a relatively heavy, high powered car like a Model 3.
     
  10. 12Pack

    12Pack ..

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    You’re right. I sometimes get a little peeved when I think folks are confusing their EVs to be performance cars.

    Hope you don’t have to wait for your Model 3 too long ....
     
  11. Peteski

    Peteski Active Member

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    The main problem with taking an S on track is overheating the drivetrain/battery. Even on a spirited cross country drive (which is nothing like as brutal as lapping a track) I get power limited within a couple of minutes. On a track it would be dialling the power down after less than a lap I'm sure. It appears the Model 3 is much better in this respect and I'm sure a Model 3P would make a great alternative to a BMW M3 or Porsche Cayman etc. neither of which are much lighter and certainly less powerful.
     
  12. 12Pack

    12Pack ..

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    Sure, I’m aware of the improvement in the Model 3’s battery management and you’re right about the BMW M3, but you’d struggle with a well driven Cayman.

    The main issue with EVs on track is not the just the weight but the weight distribution. On track you want a car with all the weight in the middle.
    See my posts #32 and #33in this thread.
    Where do I start.
     
  13. Electric Dream

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    The general perception of track days so far in this thread seems to be that they are only for those drivers who want to try and be the next Lewis Hamilton. Some track days can be like that and it's important to select the right trackday and trackday organiser for your ability and objectives if you ever do decide you want to drive on a circuit in your own car.

    I'm not suggesting EVs in general or even the Model 3 in particular is the perfect track car. It could be made to be a very good track car in my opinion, but time will tell on that.

    Trackdays in the UK are not competitive. Lap timing isn't allowed and and hooligan behaviour is usually dealt quickly with by the organiser.
    As I said before, it's a safe environment to learn how your car behaves and how you can improve as a driver. Skills learn on track make drivers safer on the road and more prepared to deal with the unexpected.

    There are also other types of driver training days I've been involved with which concentrate on technique not outright speed and any driver could use any car on that type of day. A Model S or X would be fine for that sort of thing. Better in some ways because you would learn how to manage weight transfer better than a small, light car.

    There are plenty of choices so don't rule out anything yet.
     
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  14. 12Pack

    12Pack ..

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    #14 12Pack, Feb 2, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
    Again, fully agree that it will be fun to for you to enjoy learning about your car on the track.

    My point in this discussion is that people are considering going on track for the first time with a Model 3 because they think of it as as a performance car. And perhaps had never thought of doing that with a previous ICE car. I find that truly odd, as skateboard style EVs are particularly ill suited for track duty. There are so many cheaper, four door / hot hatch cars that do much better on track. Drag strips are where Teslas shine.

    Nevertheless, enjoy your track experience with the new car. Don’t forget to turn off the brake regen if you’ve got a RWD model so you can load the fronts for turn in. It’s a fantastic hobby. I started with karting when I was 7. You’ll love it.
     
  15. Peteski

    Peteski Active Member

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    Okay, this is how I see things (I worked in F1 as a race engineer and later chief engineer throughout the 2000s and before that a decade both designing and race engineering BTCC cars, so you could say I have a little practical experience in vehicle dynamics and a Masters degree in the theory).

    Firstly front/rear weight distribution of the Tesla S I read is around 48/52 and if that is correct (and I expect it is given the design) it is pretty much optimal for handling i.e. a slight rear bias. I believe the Model 3 Performance has a very similar weight distribution, but is obviously considerably lighter overall and therefore "relatively" nimble. But still a fairly heavy car at around 1850 kg, which is certainly not ideal for a pure track car if you crave razor sharp handling. For reference a Porsche Cayman GT4 is somewhere around 1350 kg and a Porsche GT3 RS around 1450 kg, so a good 4-500 kg lighter, which is very significant for handling performance and tyre/brake wear etc. The Model S is really a very heavy beast at 2200 kg and that's the main reason it would feel unresponsive on a track, especially compared to a super light chassis, regardless of its optimal weight distribution. Plus it obviously has other issues with cooling and brakes etc to make a track day challenging. It's still a great road GT car though and handles very well in its class.

    So back to the Tesla Model 3, with an optimal front/rear weight distribution of around 48/52 and very low CofG it could actually make a pretty fun casual track day car in the same class as a BMW M3, Porsche Cayman, stock 911 etc. The weight is still on the heavy side, but it has plenty going for it with its EV drivetrain and chassis and it is already starting to prove itself quite capable on track:-

    Tesla Model 3 Performance breaks Laguna Seca production EV record again

    Tesla Model 3 Performance with Track Mode beats a Ferrari's record in closed circuit test

    BTW mass moment of inertia is a big red herring in vehicle handling. It's all about the magnitude of the mass and the actual position of its centre of gravity i.e. fore-aft and height. A mid-engined layout is considered optimal in ICE cars simply because it naturally provides close to optimal fore-aft weight distribution with the minimum drivetrain mass. The inherently lower mass polar moment of inertia is very much a second order benefit and can actually work against you if you go too far in minimising it. For example in F1, we actually artificially increased the mass polar moment with widely distributed ballast to make the car a little less twitchy on the limit. We also moved the centre of gravity slightly forward or backward for different tracks (maybe +/- 1% delta from the baseline 48/52). There are plenty of very impressive track cars that don't have either optimal theoretical weight distribution or even a mid-engined layout. A Porsche 911 GT3 RS for example has a weight distribution close to 40/60 with its rear engined layout, which is not the ideal starting point for a track focused car, but a hell of a lot of fun and very effective in its own right!

    So that's my 2p worth on the subject and would certainly consider doing a casual track day in a Model 3 Performance, but not in an S and certainly not in my MX!
     
  16. 12Pack

    12Pack ..

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    #16 12Pack, Feb 3, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2019
    I must say I’m very surprised as a F1 engineer you talk about 50/50 or 48/52 as an ideal weight distribution, which is great if you’re driving only in a perfect circle. But you need rearward bias to distribute braking to all wheels, and to load the rear wheels for acceleration,right? And it’s one thing to make slight adjustments of ballast to correct for, say, oversteer, but you still maintain most of the weight just forward of the rear axle. That’s why Formula cars are closer to 40/60, also Forumla E (the electric version, for those that are not aware). And why the 911 GT3 RS produces such excellent track numbers.

    All this driving talk has got me going. Roads are dry up here. Think I’ll jump into the mid-engined monster and do a quick hoon before traffic gets heavy. :)
     
  17. Peteski

    Peteski Active Member

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    On that specific point, an EV like the Model 3 actually has a pretty efficient weight distribution, with the battery sat very low in the chassis, well within the wheelbase close to the resulting overall CofG. That's why EV designers have no trouble hitting the optimum 48/52 weight distribution. You are certainly not going to have an inherently high mass moment of inertia in that kind of layout anyway.
     
  18. Peteski

    Peteski Active Member

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    I didn't say 50/50 was ideal, I said 48/52 was ideal for track use which is not quite the same thing and yes a 4% swing makes quite some difference. A lot of mid-engined cars are actually closer to 45/55, which is also pretty good on track and 40/60 is also quite acceptable, but not ideal. The only reason the 911 has a 40/60 weight distribution is because it was designed as a 2+2. There are pros and cons of its inherent 40/60 weight distribution, but Porsche didn't go that way with the 919 as a pure racer, which I would bet is much closer to 48/52 and certainly not 40/60, although I haven't seen any published figures.

    Every F1 car I've engineered has had a weight distribution close to 48/52 give or take a couple of percent. That's simply what we found works best overall. Sure if you want maximum traction at all cost then you would go further rearward and we sometimes did, but never anywhere near 40/60.

    Then of course you have to consider AWD, which means you are likely to head a little more toward an even weight distribution to get the most potential out of all 4 tyres. Turning up on track with a 50/50 AWD car would not be a disaster by any means!
     
  19. Peteski

    Peteski Active Member

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    Ah ah, enjoy your hooning :)

    Actually I think you do have a pretty good grasp on these parameters, but as with most people who don't actually do it for a living it's very hard to put every single design parameter into its proper context and relative importance. That's the advantage a few decades of professional motorsport engineering gives you and I don't mind sharing my experience with anyone interested.

    We would never adjust ballast (i.e. weight distribution) to correct for understeer/oversteer at a track. Fore/aft weight distribution was used only to trade off the bias between ultimate rear wheel traction and steady state cornering. Somewhere like Monaco for example, getting off the grid is half the battle so you might push the weight a little further back for that reason alone.
     
  20. Electric Dream

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    Regardless of what makes an ideal ICE track car, we're (mainly) talking about the Model 3 here.

    So let's remember that whatever we do to the M3 as an engineer or driver, we're going to be constrained by what the software allows and how it's programmed. AFAIK unless you have access to some special software tools, you won't be able to turn off the driver aids completely.

    If one was to select a track car to learn to drive a saloon car competitively (as an amateur) for instance, it might be something small and light with a small engine and no driver aids so you learn the basics. Plenty of 'gentleman' GT and touring car drivers would have started that way.

    Comparing a Model 3 to an ICE car with a big lump of an engine driving two wheels through a mechanical, often open diff. (which the configuration of the vast majority of trackday cars) is a bit pointless IMO, but I agree with Peteski that it has a lot of advantages built in so I expect it will end up being much more capable on track than some might think.

    I don't know if you've driven a Model 3 yet, but I have. It was the RWD version and I was lucky to drive it around LA in the canyons for a couple of days last year. The handling of the car and the way regen could be used on the downhill sections to balance the car through the corners was really encouraging to me.

    I was expecting it to be a straight line racer with relatively rudimentary handling. It was a bit harsh, that's for sure but I think that can be dialled out by playing with the springs and damping. Look at what Mountain Pass and Unplugged Performance are doing. I think the M3 Performance in particular is going to be a good package for anyone who wants a fast road car they can take on track occasionally.

    I honestly don't think it would be long before we might even see a one make race series start up for them.

    That's my 2p-worth anyway.
     

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