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Driving around problems - setup and me/you

Discussion in 'RACE 07 - Official WTCC Game' started by Matthew Schofield, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. I've heard this term a lot in F1. At some point during a race, something unexpected changes with the car that has the potential to impact on performance, or at worst, end a race. Many drivers seem to be able to get something of a handle on the situation to limit the potential impact, while a few individuals stand out from the rest, with no/very limited impact to their performance. They literally 'drive around the problem'. I'm thinking first career Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso from the recent generation. Some just stand out as better than others.

    Amazing skills, but I've noticed that I've been doing something akin to 'driving around problems' when I'm getting to know a new car/circuit, and I've actually just discovered that driving around a problem can become something of a hinderance. There's a time and a place for it, and during the learning curve of track and car doesn't seem to be the time or place. That's the place of optimising. I've been wondering how many others do it.

    Say you have a double apex corner. You're getting loose under deceleration through the first apex, perhaps the rear end is trying to overtake the front end, compromising your entry/speed/potential in-to and out-of the second apex. As the guides tell us to, we keep putting the laps down to get to know the circuit without making too many setup changes, and soon enough, you've driven around the problem you were having by anticipating the problem and adjusting accordingly. Your braking point and turn-in/driving line become engrained, you're driving around the problem, and your lap times are becoming consistent. And that's when I've noticed my progress in improving lap times begins to slow down. I haven't actually made setup changes to optimise my speed through the zone I was initially having problems in. I've changed my approach to just get through it unscathed, and I'm doing it with such consistency that it feels like I've optimised my lines, I'm on the edge. My technique is so engrained, I don't even see that section of the circuit as being an area I could optimise any further, with setup changes or otherwise.

    Sure enough, it comes to race day in the RD Club events, and that very corner I'm now subconsciously 'driving around the problem' in is where the people with greater skills (both driving and setup) are going much faster. People who are new to the game (that's me) are told to just keep putting the laps in until we become consistent on the circuit, which is no doubts good advice. It's very good advice. But... Don't fall asleep. There has to be a balance.

    I'm finding that I'm doing much better if while I'm early in the learning curve of car and circuit, I'm making setup changes for the areas I recognise that I'm starting to 'drive around problems' in. I'm doing both at the same time, which seems to be increasing my performance through those sections rather than decreasing/managing the damage through them. I'm becoming more competetive with drivers who several races ago were a long way up the road. Getting to know a new circuit and making the setup changes to optimise your performance at the same time is a very fine balance.

    Worst case scenario is that you get hooked on a track that becomes your favourite, and you drive it so frequently that every braking point, turn-in, apex, becomes so engrained that you can no longer even see how others are able to get through there so much faster. Something akin to having habits you're not aware of. Adjusting your view of the circuit, and making setup changes to eek more potential becomes harder and harder. My example is Brands Hatch. I love the place. I've been driving it on the limit of my raggedy skills, but on race day, wow, I'm nowhere. It really doesn't matter where you finish in the RD club events, they're an absolute blast, but on our favourite circuits there admitedley can be something of a feeling of 'I'd like to do better here'.

    Just an observation. A long winded one, and perhaps it's very obvious, or perhaps you've not seen it before. Perhaps nobody else suffers with the above. Maybe it's just me 'steady eddie', but I thought it interesting enough to write about. Of course, the flip side of the coin is that you can use an identical setup to someone else and still get whooped by 2 seconds per lap. Some drivers have got natural talent. They're still working hard, but they've got it. Others have to work harder for it, but the same performance isn't necessarily out of reach. Keep your options open. While you're driving around a problem with all your skills (which is a great skill in itself), managing an issue you don't even recognise you have anymore, someone else is hard on the throttle crushing that apex. That, ultimately, is what separates 1st place from 2nd from 3rd from 4th from.... A skillful balance between car control and setup changes to accomodate those techniques and ultimately lap times. Optmising. There is a time and place for driving around problems. Hope it gives some other enthusiasts who are new (or old) to the game something new to think about. It's all good fun.

    Of course, now I've put my foot in it. I've probably jinxed myself and will crash out of every race between now and the end of time :D
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  2. Dennis Phelan

    Dennis Phelan
    more about staying on track. Premium

    Where did I put my thinking cap?
    Realize that while I've been driving sim cars for a long time I'm one of the slowest club racers out there.

    Of course we all check the timing sheet during practice sessions to see where we stand. You may see a driver out there in practice, look at that screen and see no time listed for him, all you get to see for their effort is a series of "-:--", though he may have gone out ten or more times. These are guys that constantly put in the effort to improve their car and don't care to post a lap until they've pretty much tightened the last nut. This is probably just the opposite of driving to hide a problem.

    In the world of sim racing this is really the norm. At any real world event a driver goes out on track for a practice session and he may get to put the car out there once , maybe twice during the day. To come in and make a change, any of which we can do in thirty seconds might lose him an entire session of hands on the wheel knowledge. He's pretty much committed to driving the car as is while learning about its setup faults and learn the track. Fortunately for many drivers and car owners they drive at the same tracks and use the same cars so hopefully they're not too far off the mark when they first get there. Driving around the problem is a good way to get to understand it, to feel it out and get a grip on any different aspects it presents, whether it be a track surface change or a wrong choice in setup. Back at the garage, in between sessions, the change has to be correctly done, zeroed in on, as there are few opportunities to get it right.

    My tendency is to hit the track with a familiar car, maybe one driven at this track in a previous event, maybe from the last event I raced in, though it was a different track or if it's a car not usually used I'll search the garages for a car from some track driven long ago. A quick look at the car's filename might help me see what level of setup expertise was used to prep it and then I'm taking a look and making upgrades to wheel lock and other items that have been changing "standards" over time even before going out to drive. First laps will be learning the course and reading the car. If the car is close, I'll drive the errors away while I gain knowledge about the track. A really bad car will have me popping right back into the garage. Gearing will do that so my first task is to get the overall good enough for laps, tire pressures and fuel consumption numbers are next. Generally, I'll drive to put in a few laps at a time to find the problems I'm driving around and try to figure out what will be the fix for it before I get back to the garage. Once my driving turns to cutting laptimes down, a setup problem will bring me right back to the garage for a fix. For club races, as practice sessions go on I'd say my number of consecutive laps goes down per outing as I try to hone in and fine tune the car. For a league event it seems to be the opposite and after many sessions of practice I try to run entire races to check out the car.

    In the end, I still have to drive around all the problems I create with my hands on the wheel and feet on the pedal, this is the drivers part in the scheme of things, isn't it?
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  3. I guess everyone finds their own way, and of course, there's no substitute for experience. For newcomers like me, we're advised to pound in the laps to find the consistency before going heavy on making setup changes. While that advice undoubtedly has a great value, I think (for me at least) it's been a process that's come at some cost. It's easy to become engrained with something and lose sight of ways in which you might progress.
  4. Dennis Phelan

    Dennis Phelan
    more about staying on track. Premium

    Some drivers are able to drive the Default cars as or almost as fast as a car they've developed on their own. Many use setups made by fast drivers or pick one from the vast number found in the online setups. There are so many variations, there must be a large percentage of us driving in cars that need driving around the problems, lol. Certainly fun!
  5. Justin Swan

    Justin Swan

    I don't tweak much. Ill alter gear ratios and sometimes play with the roll bar but usually I'll drive a default car with altered gearing.
  6. Dennis Phelan

    Dennis Phelan
    more about staying on track. Premium

    So Justin, are you driving through problems or are the default cars[with small changes] perfect for you?
  7. I used to spend time with setups a lot spend 1-2 days just in setup mode.

    But what i've learned is that usually default (with small tweaks) is just as good (or you might end up with a slower setup than default -happend a few times). I mean that you're safer from getting yourself into trouble with lots of tire wear or some strange behavior once you're midway trough the race.
    There are real drivers that need a car to be perfect in order for them to be fast.. but there are a few (not many) that are fast in pretty much anything they get so i guess i'm aiming to be fast in anything i drive (without having to tweak it too much)

    So for now, I'm happy with default and tweaks if it feels good (this is the case just for powerful RWD cars, sometimes default is just BAD, search the internet a bit). Once i'm satisfied that i can't gain anymore from learning the track or once i'm very consistent then i'll think is the time to get into setups.

    Sure a setup might, or lets say it will, improve your time by seconds but don't you think it's better to minimise the variables and be able to mark your progress? (this is for new players, and players that don't think they're at the top of their skill level and can't improve much more (me) )

    I have a xls sheet in which i keep record of everyrace i've been in online (club races or league).
    So now when i get to redo an event i'm able to compare my times and get a feel for how much i've improved over time.

    My ultimate goal is tot make a graph with all the info i've gathered over the years (maybe once i have about 100 records (55 now). And see where i'm at, if i'm right it should go up fast and then start to level out as i reach the maximum performance for an class/track. After that i'll try to make the same graph but with lap records for track/class and try to "measure" how much further i can probably go.

    My advice for new players, drive with default or with what you're most comfortable, confidence on the track = consistency. And a few seconds earned per lap (due to a fast but unstable setup) can quickly vanish in a crash/spin (not to mention extra tire wear or damage).
    • Like Like x 2
  8. Justin Swan

    Justin Swan

    I'm just lazy, so I guess I drive around the problem lol.
    I don't get enough time to play with setups so I kinda turn up on race night and do my best. Sometimes I'll have a tinker but usually make things worse :D

    Having said that, I'm not very good at setups so I just learn the car rather than trying to tune it into me! I find the touring cars and mini setups are not far off the mark apart from gearing and in some cases, aero. The GT cars definitely need some attention on the suspension as the default cars are just horrible to master. A little softening of the rear roll bar usually tames the beast enough to drive it.
  9. I would say i am like Justin in as much as a) i can't set up a car really and b) can't be bothered!

    And i wouldn't say i drive around problems as tbh i don't know if there is a problem unless it jumps out at me (usually the car trying to swap ends under heavy braking etc.). I call it adapting to the car/track at hand.
    I may adjust ARB's and ratios, sometimes power and coast setting and brake pressure, but other than that i dont feel any other changes make a difference.
    I just get in, drive and see how i get on (usually very averagely if i am honest!).
  10. Marian Zelenka

    Marian Zelenka
    The downforce is strong with this one. Premium

    I offten try to make some changes to my setups, but even though I'm very consistent with default setups, I often can't impove much. Not to mention how useless I'm in qualifications. No idea how some guys can find 1-1,5s in it. On the other hand, they often aren't very consistent in races and make mistakes. Those are mostly guys that don't drive many laps in practice. My observation.

    If I hit my maximum, there isn't anything that can help me make faster. No driving around problem.

    What bothers me is that no matter what sim I drive, I always end up on the same performance level. :)
  11. Dennis Phelan

    Dennis Phelan
    more about staying on track. Premium

    Brian, we could use you in the Club races if you really feel that you're mid field or backmarker material!

  12. Same :roflmao:

    I would love to but i finish work late, so by the time i have had my dinner it's usually getting on for 8.30-9pm. And i am usually in bed at 10-10.30 as i am up at 5 the next day! :sleep:
    I keep meaning to throw caution to the wind and join, but we will see.
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  13. I'm useless at setting up the car so usually have to drive around a problem, I also stick to mostly fixed series racing now. I've heard some people say that setup wasn't always that important and I kind of believed it for a while. Back when I played iRacing I got hold of some guys setup for the Williams F1 car at silverstone and I went 5 seconds faster on a single lap, the car was simply faster in every way than the fixed silverstone setup, the cornering speed and stability increased greatly.

    Lets just say that on the first corner of the old Silverstone the car went from struggling to take the corner without the back end passing the front to a car that could easily and comfortably take the corner completely flat out and the car was genuinely 5 seconds faster as a result of the setup. So in some cases setup is really important, and thats when I started moving towards fixed setup races, was more about the driver and less about the setup and since I have no ability or technical mind whatsoever in setup that just suits me fine.

    Since then I've won a few prize events elsewhere, i'm far more competitive than I ever was when I raced in open setup stuff. Even so, i've seen guys with gamepads who can drive faster than me and I've seen kids who barely just started running alien laptimes.

    Time has given me experience and more control, more awareness of a situation, I'm capable of driving far more types of cars now and I can adapt and recover from situations that I couldn't before and my consistancy has improved greatly... but in terms of translating that into speed I don't think I've really improved a lot if at all, when it came to blasting out fast lap I was always pretty good (atleast by my own standards), now it just takes less time/thinking to get to that point, but the resulting lap is still limited to ending up in roughly the same ballpark.

    In my opinion (and of course opinions can never be right or wrong!) if you don't find your feet and speed with a car within the first few weeks or months of sim racing then you never will, you pretty much either have it or you don't, when it comes to being fast.
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  14. Bram

    Ezekiel 25:17 Staff Premium

    No setup will improve your time with seconds, thats just a fable.

    For most drivers any setup changes will have hardly any effect when they are racing as they are simply not consistent enough while being on the track.

    Maybe in a one lap qualification a perfect lap and setup will give you a bit extra (few tenths max) but racing thankfully is still all about being consistent.
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  15. I've found that i am 1 seconds faster with a setup , than with another, and i knew the track well and was consistent.
    Tire wear was higher but i was faster :).

    And yes.. in a race you don't gain that much, because as you said it's about being consistent.
  16. Like I said in my post, I gained 5 seconds purely from a setup at Silverstone in the Williams F1 car on iRacing. This is not fable or make believe, this is absolute truth. When it comes to dialing in a car that relies heavily on downforce, the result is nothing short of ridiculous how much you can gain from a setup.

    On SimRaceway a guy complained about the fixed setup, saying that just a few small tweaks to setup in practice gained him an instant 1.5seconds in the Toyota GT-One vs the fixed setup.

    It depends on the car you're racing, but when it comes to high speed downforce based cars especially, then setup makes a massive difference.
  17. I think the point made was apart from gearing and aero (on aero dependent cars) as well as getting the tyres at the right temps, all other setup changes DO NOT make the car go faster BUT give the driver more confidence in the car and allow HIM/HER to go faster, not the car.
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  18. You're forgetting how the setup of the suspension can interact with the aero, it's not as simple as "set wing level, set gear ratios and away we go". I tried that approach at iRacing in the F1 Williams at Silverstone and it just didn't work, the fixed series setup was already at that point. The extra 5 ish seconds came from the suspension being dialed in to interact properly with the aero creating massive stability and high speed through specific corners at Silverstone without having to sacrifice on straight line speed.

    In other words a compromise and balance had been struck to the point where the car had been setup that allowed higher cornering speeds without losing rear stability and strong straight line speed to take advantage of the higher corner exit speeds.

    The result was I went from running 1:24-1:25 laps with the fixed setup, to 1:19-1:20 laps with the properly dialed in setup. I went from thinking "how is it even possible that they (greggor huttu and co) can run 1:18 laptimes" to thinking "I can't believe how much of a difference this setup has made.

    Granted the difference isn't that big in all cars, the scenario doesn't necessarily apply to all sims but there is more to setup than just adjusting a car to a drivers preference.
  19. Marian Zelenka

    Marian Zelenka
    The downforce is strong with this one. Premium

    I have experienced many times huge gain in lap times with better car setup. My maximum (in R07) was like 2,5s so far I guess. Sometimes nothing helps, but I can be consistent and when car stops being twitchy under braking or faster around corners, then it helps a lot. But that is mostly on very bumpy and tricky tracks. In GSC2012 on the other hand, 1s is maximum when I try really hard.