The training of Formula One drivers usually involves millions of pounds and sophisticated racing simulators, but this man manages to do it all with just your average Vauxhall Astra.
One of the most important names in F1 that nobody’s ever heard of, Rob Wilson is instrumental in helping drivers shave seconds off their lap times at the Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground in Leicestershire.
And, as improbable as it might seem, Rob says that the Vauxhall Astra is the secret weapon to his success, using it to train racers from F1 to Indycar and even WRC rally drivers.
Vauxhall Astra is the secret weapon!
“The Vauxhalls will do everything that an F1 car does dynamically, just at a far lower speed,” he says. “This allows me to explain the physics behind what the car is doing out on the track in real time, which I’d never manage in a performance car.
“The other advantage is that the driver’s engineer can ride along too, and this is crucial since a change in driving technique could result in a different set-up for the race car.”
Rob’s techniques, which have been honed to a fine science through his own long and successful career in Formula Ford and NASCAR racing, help to fine-tune drivers’ abilities to a high standard.
Long history of motorsport success
His focus is primarily on cornering and managing the car’s weight transfer under braking, teaching pupils how to minimise both by using unconventional racing lines, while even gear shifts come under scrutiny.
He said: “Many top drivers have never heel-and-toed during down-changes, because they’ve never needed to.
“But the discipline makes them appreciate the importance of smoothness and how it can have a positive effect on the balance of the car into corners”
So why then, out of all the production cars Rob could use in his sessions, has he opted for the standard Vauxhall Astra?
‘Stable and durable’
“Stability, handling predictability and durability – these seem to come as standard in every Vauxhall I’ve used,” he says.
“The cars have an unbelievably hard time out on our track, as drivers try to beat my lap time, so I need to know that they’re not going to break, or do something unexpected when we’re cornering at over 100mph.”
For more information on the Vauxhall Astra or the rest of Vauxhall’s range of both new and used vehicles, why not get in touch with your local Perrys Vauxhall dealership now!