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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Although I know that there are a million subjective factors and preferences and variables, what do you guys think is the "proper" sitting position?

There are a at least 3 variables at play here:

(1) Proper arm length position. This is one that bothers me when I see some drivers, and they are so close to the wheel, that their arms are bent at less than a 90degree angle (down from their shoulder, elbow bent to like 70 degrees up to the wheel).

I was taught you want to have your arms stretched to somewhere between 110degrees to 150degrees.

(2) Seat height/angle. Assuming visibility isn't a factor, I was taught you want to be as low and outstretched as possible. The formula 1 guys are basically ass on the floor with legs out. I personally like to tilt the seat up at an angle to supply some thigh support with my butt lowered. With regard to angle of seat, I'm not sure what the rule of thumb is, or if something is more proper than not.

(3) Seat distance. I'm not sure what the right position is here. I try to reduce how much bend my legs have, while having some upper thigh support. I think they're bent slightly greater angles than my arms. I'm not sure what the "ideal" is that you should strive for. Obviously something that facilitates foot travel while minimizing fatigue, but not sure if there is a rule of thumb here.

Obviously comfort and other preferences may affect the above, but what do you guys think?

I think I've noticed some reviewers start getting their arms closer to the wheel and have them less outstretched and not sure if there's a new school of thought here.
 

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F1 drivers are stretched out somewhat but they are still quite close to the steering wheel with arms bent quite a bit.

I was always taught that you should be able to comfortably rest your wrists on top of the steering wheel without needing to move your shoulders off the seatback. It might feel a bit odd at first.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
So I've looked at some Senna videos and he seems to have arms stretched a bit like I suggested. There's a mediocre shot in this video around 1:09 mark:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awCuP_umhVA

Also, I was taught by rally drivers, relatively, more "real" vehicles.

"Rally" stig in teh shot seems to have his arms in the same range. See around the 1:02 mark on this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZ1_eiW0Hrs

That said, I've seen some rally drivers hunch up as well...

Is this an old school vs. new school thing? Or just a varied personal pref thing?
 

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It might be a relatively 'new school' thing. I think that shot of Senna might be a bit misleading. He's turning the wheel so as his left arm rises, it gives the impression that his arms are more stretched out then they really are. I'm sure personal preference and design of the car are a factor as well. I just watched a clip a few weeks ago where they were showing how Rosberg likes his wheel an inch closer then Hamilton does.
http://www.ausmotive.com/images2/Toyota-TF109-xray-02s.jpg

Rally drivers sitting close makes a lot of sense. It gives your arms far more leverage and that type of driving is typically all arm and elbows.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
It might be a relatively 'new school' thing. I think that shot of Senna might be a bit misleading. He's turning the wheel so as his left arm rises, it gives the impression that his arms are more stretched out then they really are. I'm sure personal preference and design of the car are a factor as well. I just watched a clip a few weeks ago where they were showing how Rosberg likes his wheel an inch closer then Hamilton does.
http://www.ausmotive.com/images2/Toyota-TF109-xray-02s.jpg

Rally drivers sitting close makes a lot of sense. It gives your arms far more leverage and that type of driving is typically all arm and elbows.
Watch the video, they're outstretched a fair bit even as he straightens out on the turns. Say around the 1:50 marker.

Your picture is really interesting. His ass is so low in the seat that perhaps at that extreme, it makes sense to cut the angle down. Most normal cars can't achieve that kind of legs over ass position. Wonder if there's been some thought on this beyond personal preferences.

Agreed on the theory re: rally drivers. Despite this, I was taught by some rally pros from the 60's, and at least they were teaching the positioning I mention (albeit this is going back to the early 90s), and they were teaching that at the professional driver schools to the up and coming pros.

Interesting...
 

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I have my arms bent and the steering wheel relatively high to allow my thumbs to be at chest level. My knees are slightly bent when pedals are fully pressed. I also sit as low as the seat will allow, and I am 6'.

What works for most dynamic sports I think works for driving.

Arms outstretched is fatiguing for me. But it looks cool, I guess.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I think that's right Goplay. If you stretch your arms out to far, not only is it fatiguing, I think you reduce your agility. Same goes for having the steering wheel 1" from your chest with your arms so close you can only use your wrists to steer. Somewhere in the middle is the "golden" ground. Just not sure where that is...
 

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Steering wheel position

Look at the NASCAR drivers. They really require the most precision of steering control. We all too often see the result of bad steering control in their events. They are always at about 90 deg elbow angle. Their lower hand on the wheel in a turn provides control and precision. The upper only when a new grip is required.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y--STIRClMg

So here's a video where Spenard says "almost" at 90 degrees. If you look at it, he's at about the 110 degree mark.

He notes that at the top of the wheel you should have a bend in your elbow, so your shoulder is still pressed back in the seat. That seems right to me.

He also notes that you should push all the way back to the end of the clutch travel, and still have a bend in your knee. This of course wouldn't apply to the scenario of the picture you show, where the ass is below the legs.

Not that they're an authority, but car and driver suggests 120-140degree.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84wqdvxIPw0

Here's one from porsche (they tell you to align your *wrist* with the top of the wheel, which will give you a slight bend of the elbow at the top when holding it in your hand, and result in the similar 110-150degree angle per that first video):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72qpgA7Cr_4

And here's one from Jag driving school:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=747yPuH-8qM
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Look at the NASCAR drivers. They really require the most precision of steering control. We all too often see the result of bad steering control in their events. They are always at about 90 deg elbow angle. Their lower hand on the wheel in a turn provides control and precision. The upper only when a new grip is required.
True, but they're basically have low variation in their turning, and are "threading" needles on their steering at high speed.

The steering in F1/rally is more violent and varied, which may suggest a different preference...

But you're right, that makes a lot of sense there.
 

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A pro rally driver once showed me the perfect position for best control in his opinion,that was to have the knees slightly bent when the pedals are pressed ,the seat back upright to be comfortable,and then adjust the wheel so your wrist sits on the top of it,then you will find your arms to be in the correct bent position when they rest at 9 to 3,it works for me,especially on long trips and when on a blast
 

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I agree with Andy. We all need to consider an F1 car is about 1 turn lock to lock - less arm movement required therefore you can be farther back from the wheel - also the reclined position prevents the wheel from being relatively parallel to your chest. Since our cars are much more than 1 turn lock to lock, as are rally cars, etc., etc., the driver needs to be closer to the wheel to allow greater range of motion required to rotate the wheel 270+ degrees one way or the other without having to let go of the wheel.

Personally I like the "laid back" method - provides for maximum coolness...
 

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I was shown the correct position at fiorano a few years back... surprised me very slightly, but ultimately you get much more support for your shoulders as they advocate quite an upright backrest and then close to the wheel with about 90 degrees elbow angle, maybe even slightly less... I was surprised as I had a much more laid back straight arm position... I too prefer a lot of support under the thigh up the knee, basically the position you get in a proper race seat.. the one that I was really surprised about was how much more comfortable this position is on a long journey..certainly helped my feel when driving as well... at that point I think I had an m3 as well as 458 and my connection with both cars improved a lot.. more so in the M3 bizarrely..
 

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Long arm

So I knew I wasn't imagining it. Back in the day, straight arm driving was considered more the norm. Check out Senna's arm positioning here:


I've been trying the new position of having more elbow bend, but after seeing this, I think I'm going to go back to extending my arm a bit more. Just feels a bit more natural to me.
 

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I don't see how F1 arm position has any relevance to road car arm position. They have nothing in common.

I have a freakishly long torso and that requires that I rake the seat back to keep my head from hitting the roof and that is without a helmet.
 

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Did the camera angle determine his seating position? Did he need to get his body as far back as possible to get himself out of the shot as much as possible?


So I knew I wasn't imagining it. Back in the day, straight arm driving was considered more the norm. Check out Senna's arm positioning here:


I've been trying the new position of having more elbow bend, but after seeing this, I think I'm going to go back to extending my arm a bit more. Just feels a bit more natural to me.
 

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Did the camera angle determine his seating position? Did he need to get his body as far back as possible to get himself out of the shot as much as possible?
Possible, but I dont think so. I remember noticing this in a bunch of his races in formula 1. If you look back in the thread there is a still, but it's in dispute because it's mid turn etc. But I remember watching him and being taken how straight arm he drove, and it was more the norm back in the day in F1 IMO.

Then again, if you watch the famous 'penny loafer' nsx-r drive a few years later, it seems to be a bit in transition. When his arms are relaxed, they are more in the 'elbow bent' modern style, but when he fists the steering wheel, it's more in his old style f1 straight arm.

Perhaps I'm imagining it, but my impression is, back in the day, the arm position was more straight.

But I'm not positive. Here is that later video...you make the call.

 

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<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/hb9CUaYgklc" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>




How interesting that Road and Track would post this at a most opportune time. :)

Yeah, this is new style. Old school seems to be more straight arm.

I think in the end, those are good guidelines and you need to season to taste for the last bit of comfort/control.
 
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