Saving fuel isn't the most glamorous part of racing, but it's crucially important. Whether it's to make sure you have enough fuel to finish the race, or to keep from overstepping fuel use regulations, fuel saving is an important skill that every pro driver uses in pretty much every race.
The YouTube channel recently uploaded a video featuring interviews with some of the best IndyCar drivers around, each explaining how they strategize fuel use during a race. Stars including Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, Sébastien Bourdais, and Scott Dixon all give their secrets.
Today, most race cars have tunable engine control computers with different settings to maximize fuel economy or power—controlled by one of the many adjustment knobs you see on today's control-laden steering wheels. That means the driver doesn't have to change their style—the car does all the work.
In other racing series (like the NASCAR event shown at the top of this page), drivers have to consciously change their technique to save fuel. Lifting off the throttle and coasting before the braking point in a corner is a popular method, as is short-shifting while accelerating. But as Pagenaud explains in the video above, being able to maintain momentum is the most important aspect of saving fuel. If you can do that, you'll be able to minimize your disadvantage. To do it right, you need to have a balanced car to begin with—a car with a lot of understeer or oversteer will require more braking, which means a loss of momentum.
Learning how to save fuel and go fast at the same time is one of the most challenging aspects of racing. But master it, and you'll be taking podium spots in no time.