So maybe you've just made the plunge in to Mario Kart 7 and it's your first title of the series, or you've been a fan of the series for a long time but just have never done that well. You've come to the right place if you want to get better at this game.
1.) Drift!: This may just be the most important thing to do out of all of these steps - use your drift-boosts. How do you do this? It's really rather simple. Upon turns, move the left stick in the direction you're going and press the 'R' button on your 3DS. When you do this, your kart will slide. If you do this for a long enough period, your kart will have blue and then red flames. The difference between these two flames is simply that red gives you a longer boost. Regardless of whether or not you can get red on every turn (to be honest, you can't get one on most turns in this game), every little boost helps.
2.) Know the tracks: This should probably be common sense, but it has to be said. If you don't know the tracks and the short cuts and how to cut corners flawlessly, then you just aren't going to finish in a good position. Period.
3.) Use your items intelligently/Watch the bottom screen: If you're a long-time fan of the Mario Kart series, then you know that its notorious for catering the better items for those further back in the race. For instance, a person in 8th will get the lightning bolt or a blue shell, while the person in first will almost always get a banana/green shell/Tanooki tail. If you're in first place and have one of those three items, don't use them unless it's necessary - don't just plop bananas down behind you. It is much wiser to instead hold the 'L' button while you're racing, so that if a red shell is fired at you, you won't flip your kart. Also, it's easy to ignore the bottom screen when playing this game, but you should definitely keep an eye on it, particularly if you're in first place and you want to see if the guy in 2nd is about to put out can of red shell whoop-ass on you. Use my tips from this step, and he'll be screaming in frustration in no time.
4.) Collect coins: When playing online, I see very few people actually doing this. Not only does collecting coins help you unlock kart customization things, but your kart goes a little bit faster with every coin you get - so get as many as you can.
5.) Empty your load: If you happen to be in first place and a dreaded blue shell is headed your way, and you have items on you, drop them. When you do this, you can potentially wipe out any racers that would normally pass you had you not done it.
6.) Starting boost: If you're new to the series or just have a bad memory, there's a way to instantly put yourself ahead of the other racers. How? When the race is counting down (3..2..1..), halfway through 2, hold down 'A' until it says "GO!" What this will do is give you a shooting start. Be careful though - if you hold 'A' as soon as you see 2 or sooner, you'll start in the BACK of the pack.
7.) Acceleration: Last but certainly not least, this is the best thing you can do for yourself to improve your chances at winning. While you may be tempted to use the likes of heavyweights such as Bowser, Donkey Kong, or Wario, you should pick a lightweight racer like Lakitu, Toad, or Koopa, and optimize your kart for acceleration. While you may not like the idea of having low speed, the fact is, you don't need high speed in this game to be successful; basically just acceleration, and that only. The reason? Quick recovery. If you wipe out, you'll recover so quickly it's almost as if it never happened. If you're racing as a heavyweight though, you take forever trying to get yourself back up to speed.
And there you have it. Trust me, if you follow these tips, you WILL finish at or near the top almost every single race. Of course, since this is Mario Kart, there will be times where a blue shell will strip victory from your hands literally feet from the finish line, but for the most part, these tips will help you immensely. Take it from me; I currently have a 252-24 record when racing online.