Because I am not a rally driver with lots of Ks in my name, I do not left-foot brake much. You know the technique: pushing a brake pedal with your ‘wrong’ foot while the right foot hovers on or around on the accelerator.
Racing and rally drivers do it all the time, to slow a car while simultaneously maintaining a preferred cornering balance. Or perhaps there’s engine lag and they want to make sure it spools more quickly. Or perhaps a car is running wide and they want to just brush the pedal to bring it back into line. And sometimes they like to blur the line between slowing for a corner and picking up the throttle on the way out.
I’m sure there are other reasons, too, but I don’t really understand them much, which is why I don’t do it often.
The other week, though, I felt compelled. The Lamborghini Aventador SV has a great big brake pedal seemingly set up perfectly for the job, and it also seems to like to be told precisely what to do at any given moment, because it feels notably wayward should you find yourself in the middle of a corner while not touching either of the pedals, and even more lively if you jump from the throttle to the brake.
So I harnessed my inner Finn, so that I could more gingerly press both pedals and, in the end, I got the hang of it and was overlapping slowly releasing the brake near the apex with slowly picking up the throttle on the way out. Because, in a 740bhp car, I find ‘slowly’ is the best way to pick up the throttle.
Thing is, if you trail the brake a little too much, the Lamborghini is disinclined to give you any acceleration at all. It thinks you’re all flustered, are about to run into something or someone, and have gone for both pedals at the same time. So it pulls the plug on the V12.
Sensible? Probably. “This is a safety issue,” says Maurizio Reggiani, Lamborghini’s R&D director. “We had several discussions about this.” It’s a Volkswagen Group policy but apparently wouldn’t be compulsory at Lamborghini. “We can avoid it,” says Reggiani, “but you can imagine also that on the public road, this [the ability to stop] is an ability that we must guarantee.”
So, yes, sensible, but I dunno, Reg. If you’re driving a Lamborghini Aventador SV, and you put its chassis and engine into their angriest settings, couldn’t it be assumed that you know what you’re doing? If you don’t, it’s like choosing a foot-long kitchen knife and then being surprised that it’s sharp.
“I have the same discussion with my test drivers,” says Reggiani. “I say ‘**** you’.” So that’s that. Whatever the Lamborghini, whatever the power, if you’re flummoxed just lamp both pedals, hard, and it’ll do its best. Actually, maybe that is quite reassuring after all.