Nobody is born knowing. That’s an evident truth when it comes to understand the perfect timing to be passed. To be passed? you’d ask. Yes, to be passed. David S Peterson’s post is a very good initial approach to this strategic situation which can make your races more challenging and not only a brainless battle.
A lot of people seem to think that allowing a faster car to pass is a courtesy given by slower drivers to faster drivers.
It is not.
You don’t do things just to be courteous during a race. Your decisions during a race should be based on finishing in the best position possible. Politeness is simply not a part of that.
Allowing yourself to be passed willingly is a tactical decision.
When another car has closed with your car, the matter of who is faster has already been settled. If they reached you, they are faster. If you respond by trying to drive faster in hopes of staying ahead of the other car at that point, you will almost certainly be overdriving your car and pushing yourself into a mistake soon. So this is generally a bad tactic.
So you are going to be holding up this car. You won’t be able to hold him forever. So you should consider the tactical implications. Can you hold him off for the rest of the race? Usually the answer to that is no. But if there are few laps left, maybe it is possible and worth trying. What will you gain if you can successfully hold him off? Is it worth the risk?
The primary reason to allow another car to pass you without a fight is your own safety. If you will not allow him by in an easy pass, he’s going to have to resort to a difficult pass with a greater risk of contact. So you’re weighing the tactical advantages of holding him off versus the risk that your race will end when he tries to pass you forcibly.
Most of the time, the best tactical decision will be to allow the other driver to pass without a challenge.
This is especially true when you are being lapped by another car. There are very few situations where it makes any tactical sense whatsoever to challenge a car which is lapping you. All you will be doing is sharply increasing your odds of crashing out of the race for no potential gain at all. You don’t let the leader by out of courtesy. You let him by because challenging him would be a fool’s errand with no reward even if you could hold him off somehow.
It’s all risk versus reward. And forced passes are the most dangerous element of a race. Don’t create that situation unless there’s a real point to it. Most of the time, you’re better off just letting the guy by.
Besides, if you’re lucky, that faster guy will advance to tangle with the next car ahead of you, and they’ll take each other out. And then you’ll inherit a spot. Now _that_ is a good tactic. And hardly a rare scenario.
I’d add staying out of the line in a no-gain situation or taking advantage of the outside line in slow corners or straights to minimize time loss and contacts are a couple of wise things to do.