Will left-foot braking die out in 2022?

The technique made famous by some of the WRC's greats could fall out of fashion entirely in the Rally1 era


Left-foot braking.

There’s no doubt plenty reading this article either know how to do it, wish they knew how to do it or know to their cost that they can’t do it as they’ve practised on the public road and almost launched themselves through their windshield.

I fall into the last category, if you’re interested.

But what we’re really interested in with this article is how the technique has been used in the World Rally Championship.

For years, it’s how our heroes have slowed themselves down; modulating the pedal to give the car better balance through the quicker corners while stomping on it for the tight stuff.

But might it be about to disappear from a driver’s repertoire of skills?

I’ll be honest, I’d never even considered the possibility until I heard Toyota technical director Tom Fowler’s answer to that exact question from a fellow WRC journalist in a recent media call.

As you’ll hopefully now know if you’ve read our explainer into how the hybrid package will be used this year, the driver will regenerate hybrid boost via braking but braking when the car is on full boost will cut the extra power, just like touching the brakes on the freeway when in cruise control will deactivate the program.

So Fowler, put us out of our sudden misery. Will WRC drivers be left-foot braking in 2022?

[In 2022] the driver needs to be aware when he's using left-foot braking of the additional consequences Tom Fowler

“It means the driver needs to be aware when he’s using left-foot braking of the additional consequences,” is his initial response.

“Of course there’s a period of time during the middle now where the left-foot braking is most often used, where you may not be deploying [hybrid power] anyway. So during this period, left-foot braking would not necessarily be detrimental to the strategy.

“However, if you leave your left-foot braking occurring during a longer period of time then it could become an issue.

“But, on the other hand, in terms of the modern rally driver of course all rally drivers use their left foot for the braking and the fastest drivers tend not to use the throttle and the brake at the same time so often because as we’ve seen, WRC has become more and more necessary to drive as if you’re on a racetrack, every corner has to be perfect and if you’re left-foot braking it probably means you haven’t done the perfect corner.

“So it’s all going in the same direction as it has been for years anyway.”

There we have it. Pay extra attention to any pedal cameras we get through the WRC+ coverage on the Monte Carlo Rally.

The braking tactic masseurs McRae, Mäkinen et al made so famous and spectacular may be sacrificed as driving strategy takes on a whole new guise.