You may not have given your seating position for daily driving a lot of thought, and for most situations that's probably fine. When you start getting into performance driving however, your seating position becomes much more important. One thing to keep in mind while adjusting your seating position is to make sure you are all the way back in the seat. It's common people find the ideal seating position and then when they get their belts on tight they slide back into the seat and are too far back from the controls.
A good adjustment to start with is your distance from the pedals. If you are too close, it's going to be difficult to get comfortable with your heel on the floor and to make smooth inputs on the clutch, brake and throttle. When you press the clutch all the way down, you want a slight bend in your leg, if your leg is all the way extended to operate the clutch, slide the seat forward a little bit. Next, move on the steering wheel. You don’t want the steering wheel to be too low your hand hit your legs when you are steering but you also don't want it too high where it is hard to reach over the top of the steering wheel. From there move the steering wheel closer or away from you depending upon what is comfortable. Make sure you don’t move the steering wheel so far away that your arms are stretched all the way out. This is because when your arms are all the way out, you end up making large imprecise movements with your shoulders muscles and not small precise movements with your arm's muscles. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to rest your wrist on the top of the steering wheel and have a slight bend in your arm.
Another thing to do is adjust the height of your seat. You've probably heard that it is best to sit as low as possible to keep the center of gravity lower and to get the best feel of what the car is doing. This is definitely true but do not compromise your visibility to just so you can sit as low as possible. First and foremost, you need to be able to see.
A common mistake we see is people reclining too much in the seat. What you'll find is that if you are reclined too much and start driving fast, you’ll unconsciously pull yourself towards the wheel. This is unsafe in an accident and will cause you to make bugger less smooth inputs because your shoulders are not pushed back up against the seat. This also means you won't feel the car as well because you aren't getting those extra vibrations through the seat back.
If you are looking for the best seating position in a race car, you'll want to make sure that you buy the right seat. A racing seat doesn’t recline and isn't anywhere near as adjustable as a street car seat so you need a seat that fits you properly right out of the box.
So next time you are doing any performance driving, take a look at these adjustments to maximize your abilities behind the wheel. If you want to learn more about hand positions for performance driving, click here!