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The Art of Setups

Discussion in 'F1 2011 Setups' started by Toby Davis, Aug 30, 2011.

  1. Many people struggle to understand how to achieve an alien’s laptimes, or to be as consistent as the people who are escaping from them up the road. The answer is not entirely clear, but there are certain things you can do to help yourself be more competitive in online simracing.

    Firstly, you need to understand what actually makes a car go fast. This is relatively simple to break down and clarify – actually doing it is an entirely different matter. For me, there are four stages:

    • Understanding the LIMITS of the car, track and your ability.
    • Tweaking your DRIVING STYLE to match all of the above.
    If you think you are a quick driving a default setup in a newly downloaded mod on a public server, then Racedepartment.com races always make you realise that you aren’t actually the next Lewis Hamilton. Most people in fact think that they can just rock up to an event and be right on the pace – never is this actually the case. You need to be methodical and PREPARED, and that means PRACTICE. If you don’t know the cars, and you don’t know the track, you haven’t got a hope of competing with someone who has been racing for a while, even in the clubs. That doesn’t mean they are any less inaccessible, or elitist, it just means that if you want to win, then you need to be prepared. Even if you are just familiarising yourself with a new track, learning the braking points and so forth, then you are more likely to do well.

    Next comes CAR SETUP. In almost all cases, the default car setup will not be the fastest one. This is where TESTING comes in. You have familiarised yourself with the track layout and the basic workings of the car by now, so you need to try setup changes to see whether they improve the matter. You cannot make any changes until you have at least tried the track for a few laps – I always run a default setup for 10 laps whilst learning the track if it’s my first time in a mod, or I run with a setup that I know worked before if it’s a mod I am used to. Take WTM for example – I have saved a collection of setups, but I always start from a base point – I have 3 different setups that I have created with different tendencies (oversteer and sharp turn in, neutral mid-corner and good traction, initial understeer but soft on tyres). I then test each one and see which provides the fastest lap time, and work from there. However, I suggest that you make 1 change at a time, test it for 3 laps, then make another change, test it for 3 laps, and so on. If something doesn’t work, then go in the opposite direction. I will talk about basic setups in a future article.

    Next up comes understanding the LIMITS. This means a longer run. By now you have got a pretty good, stable setup underneath you. This doesn’t mean your setup is set in stone, but you have a pretty good feel for what each change does to the vehicle. When I talk about limits in this respect, I mean the car’s usable tyre life, pushing the braking zones and memorising them perfectly, and making sure you have figured out how to keep momentum going. Remember, a race circuit is more than just 1 corner, and low laptimes = high average speed. Flying into a corner sideways might give you a good initial entry speed, but your exit speed will be severely compromised.

    Finally comes DRIVING STYLE. After you have done your long run, maybe tweaking the setup here and there to make sure your tyre’s limits are kept in check and the car is easier to keep good momentum up and look after itself, then you can look at your driving style. I recommend trying lots of different lines in this situation, as well as braking points, turn in points and gear ratios. Gears are actually fairly critical – you might think you just gear for top speed, but actually, most of your laptime is made up in the corners, so the right gear for a corner might help your laptime, even if your car is just about revving out in a straight line. You might need to analyse whether your brake bias is allowing you to be fully committed to corners, or whether you are locking the fronts or rears too often. You might find that you need to be more progressive on the throttle to look after the rear tyres (or fronts if you are driving a FWD car), for example. I advise you to get a program that gives you something called a “delta,” which will show you how your laptime is progressing compared to your overall personal best. This is useful as you can see not only how consistent you are being, but also whether a certain line is better than others, and so on.

    95% of laptime is found from the driver in an identical car – the rest is setup. Remember that if you practice lots, look at other people’s styles, make sure you are prepared and have tweaked your setup then you will be faster than you were before. It requires effort, but it’s more than rewarding when it pays off.
    • Like Like x 3
  2. Toby I love you.This article is the best.
  3. well said. so simple, and true, and difficult
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Danny Asbury

    Danny Asbury
    Premium Member

    This is well done, Toby. Great job. The gear ratios always catch me out.
  5. Toby helping me already i have been finding it hard to match lap times with other fellow races , even if they give you a setty to try out its how you drive it what helps good read toby
  6. Sk3ptik0n

    Premium Member

    Well done. I also wanted to add that emphasis on laptime is somewhatmisguided. Sure, it is important to t least be in the ballpark but especially in longer races would you be able to maintain that pace without wrecking? I personally prefer a less fast but stable setup for races over 30 minutes.
  7. Excellent article Tobo! Thanks :)
  8. Cheers guys! @Corrado, I will be focussing on setup in the next article and explaining that setting up a car for the fastest possible lap is not always the fastest way to run a race. :)
  9. Nice article Toby :) And waiting for the next one
  10. Great Article. Well summirized. This applies for all classes, touring all the way to F1. As an F1 player myself i have practiced and practiced tiil i got a confortable BUT balanced set up suited for an especific track and beaten most Lap records from most of the guys that do RD F1 races...by +0.005 in some tracks to +0.800
  11. good stuff. sometimes we need to review the basics. sometimes the most important gains come from good old fashioned work. thanks for the reminder.
  12. Omer Said

    Omer Said
    Weresloth Staff Premium Member

    Nice tips Toby, hope to read more of your articles! :)
  13. Great article. Nice to see you touching the fact you always need a base point to work from.
  14. Tim Ling

    Tim Ling
    It's a million-to-1 chance, but it just might work Premium Member

    A nice read Toby, thanks
  15. Excellent ! :D Thanks Toby ;)
  16. Rui F. Martins

    Rui F. Martins
    Premium Member

    great article, looking forward for the article about setups, i have a very limited knowledge about setups :frown:
  17. Its always a good to read what others do when coming to a new track with a new car. I always try to learn a car or a track first before i mix both. Sometimes i just enter a track with a road car (the panoz for example) and start doing some laps at very low speed to get a better view of what is the best line into a corner. When i first get into the car im going to compete with i will always do 1 single installation lap first to get a feel of what the car is doing. I will not drive as fast as i can, i just try to feel as much as i possibly can. I feel how the car is handling under braking. How it is on the throttle, how it feels turning in, the balance in the low speed corners (mechanical grip) , the balance in the high speed corners (aerodynamic grip) and the gearing. After that lap i will take a note of things i dont like or feel that needs to be changed. I look over the gathered telemetry data (Motec) and check if the brakes get up to temperature well, check if I'm running the right camber setting, check the engine temperatures and so forth. With all that data i will get a base setup and start doing 5 lap stints and check telemetry afterwards/do some setup changes untill i feel i got a good car beneath me. I always take it easy the first few laps and gently build from that point. It helps a lot more if you have team mates that are doing quicker lap times than you are, so you can compare your laps with theirs and see where you are losing time.
  18. One area that i have a "blank spot" is caster. I'm playing Race07, so i have to talk about this game to explain me. If i put the maximum angle in caster (less vertical as possible), i think i gain in braking (more when is hard breaking), but i could loose in grip when i turn. I'm not sure of this, but if you think in a Harley Davidson (a stupid example, is not a competition bike), the caster is exaggerated and if the bike is stiff enough probably you have more conditions to brake in less space. But how about the corners? I think the stability will be not so good and you have more tendency to roll the front and loose grip. Is this a completely non sense or not?
  19. AFAIK bigger caster makes car more stable during braking/accelerating and in fast turns and lower caster makes car less stable during these actions but allow car to change direction more easily which is needed in chicanes for example. I am not a setup guru and this is only how I feel this.
  20. My experience in Sim racing is but 10 weeks old. I am currently out of work and therefor have 24 hours a day to practice and study. And, I have done a lot of reading, believe me! I am now waiting for it to form a picture.

    Castor: My understanding may need correcting but, here's my bit on castor. Imagine a single wheel in front of you, pointing ahead and stood vertical. Fix an imaginary strut to it. Now to make a turn you spin the strut(steer) and the wheel points in the direction you twist the strut. The contact patch of the tyre is unaffected in these simple terms.

    Begin again only this time let us add Castor but, lets overdo it and bring the strut 90 Deg back towards you so the strut is parallel with the road. Now try and turn the strut to steer. All the wheel does is roll over onto its outer edge which is equivalent to adding camber. No steer at all.

    A little castor is good as it induces camber which force the steer wheels to lean into a corner just as 'Unregistered' said about the Harley. Lean aids turning but, too much offers limited turning.

    None of this takes into account mechanical linkages and induced forces. It is a simple account to demonstrate moderation.