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Setup Simplified - Quick-Start Guide

Discussion in 'Automobilista - General Discussion' started by Ethan Dean, Apr 26, 2017.

  1. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    With a P3 out of 515 drivers in the latest TTOTW and a handful of decent AC times, I wanted to offer what I could to help people get their feet wet with car setup. This doesn't explain every single aspect and concept, for there have been entire books published on the subject; think of this as the quick-start guide at the start of any user manual, just something to get you up and running before you get stuck in and down to the details.

    I don't claim to be 100% correct, and welcome any clarifications or corrections! This is all from my own personal experience and what works for me.

    And for the low low price of £5.99 GBP you can unlock access to the rest of this docu... just kidding. Let's go.
    _____________________________

    Before we begin, I'd like to explain one fundamental concept; the amount that the chassis is allowed to move dictates how much weight it's transferring in any given direction. The chassis rolls backwards under acceleration, weight on the rear tires goes up and weight on the front goes down. Forwards under braking, the opposite. Exiting a left-hand corner, the weight shifts backwards and to the right, so weight goes to the right rear tire - you get the picture. Think of a G-meter.

    Stick around 'til the end - I'll explain the bits and pieces first, and then give you my workflow of how to utilise it all. Knowing what everything does is one thing, making it all work together is quite another. It's one big balancing act.


    SUSPENSION
    TIRES & ALIGNMENT
    BRAKES
    AERODYNAMICS
    DRIVETRAIN
    THE BALANCING ACT - THROWING IT ALL TOGETHER
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
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  2. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    SUSPENSION

    Let's start with the elephant in the room. It's not as bad as you think.

    The main rule of thumb I use is that softer springs equal more mechanical (non-aerodynamic) grip, so keep them as soft as possible without letting the chassis bottom out too badly over bumps, undulations, or even chassis roll in extreme cases of squidginess.

    You can use the springs to make significant adjustments to the balance of the car. If you're understeering, soften the front springs a reasonable amount (that is to say, an amount which won't let the front bottom out). If that isn't enough, then pop in some stiffer springs at the rear. If you're oversteering, do the opposite - soften the back, and if that's not enough, stiffen the front. Find the balance which works for you. Overall I often like my rear spring rates to be softer than the front for general stability.

    In short - find the balance you like, and make 'em soft, but not so soft that you're bottoming out everywhere. That's it for springs. Next!
    These allow control over the spring's compression and extension. Bump is the compression of the spring, and rebound is the extension. I consider these a fine-tuning adjustment. Despite the length of this section, the concept here is dead simple; just takes some text to explain fully.

    You have two kinds of bump and rebound - slow and fast. Slow settings allow you to control the weight transfer under braking, acceleration, and cornering. The fast settings take over at a certain threshold of force when you encounter significant impacts such as kerbs or large bumps.

    My primary use for slow bump and rebound has been fine-tuning the car's rotation on corner entry and exit. Remember, the amount you allow the chassis to pitch or roll in any given direction defines how much weight you're putting on that particular end or corner of the car; so if you want more turn-in on corner entry, allow more weight to the front by softening the front bump and loosening the rear rebound, and vice versa. If you want more rear-end grip on exit, allow more weight to the rear by softening the rear bump and loosening the front rebound, and vice versa. Softening/loosening is a lower number, stiffening is a higher number. Here's a table for all scenarios.

    More rotation on entry = soften front bump/loosen rear rebound - more weight allowed to front
    Less rotation on entry = stiffen front bump/stiffen rear rebound - less weight allowed to front
    More rotation on exit = stiffen rear bump/stiffen front rebound - less weight allowed to rear
    Less rotation on exit = soften rear bump/loosen front rebound - more weight allowed to rear

    The great thing is that you can independently control entry and exit because front weight transfer is governed by front bump/rear rebound, and rearward transfer by rear bump/front rebound. You could give it understeer on entry and oversteer on exit if you wanted to.

    Now, as for the fast settings, simply tune the fast bump to soak up the kerbs and bumps, and the fast rebound so that it doesn't extend again too violently and create bounces. I also like to make the rear fast settings a click or two lower than the front, just to ensure stability over the rough stuff.
    Lower is better, and can mean a better centre of gravity and better aerodynamic stability, but consider how flat and/or bumpy the track is. Ride height and springs go hand in hand; a lower ride height will need stiffer springs to keep the chassis up off the ground, but the compromise is between keeping the chassis off the ground and the mechanical grip given by softer springs.

    It's also worth mentioning rake - this is where the rear of the car is higher than the front. I always run some, as it provides a little downforce boost, and also increases suspension travel at the rear which helps with grip under acceleration.
    These guys are simple, at least in my application of them. They handle the balance in the middle of the corner when you're neither accelerating nor decelerating, but they can also contribute to overall balance. In terms of setting them up, use them like springs; softer equals more grip at that end, stiffer less. Don't make them too stiff though, because in corners you can overload the outer tire. Too soft, and the handling may become unpredictable. As with any setting, integrate it and balance with the rest.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  3. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    TIRES & ALIGNMENT

    Wear your rubbers properly so you don't end prematurely.

    Camber is the amount the tire is leaning relative to the chassis - we'll be focusing on negative camber, which is where the tire is leaning inwards towards the chassis like this. Looks good to me. Positive camber has the tire leaning in the opposite direction, with the top further outboard than the bottom, and is really only useful in oval applications.

    So, practically, how do you work with this? The answer is the spread of temperature across the tires' treads. In the setup menu, beside the settings for pressure and camber, you'll notice a row of three temperature readings. These are I/M/O, for Inner/Middle/Outer. On the setup screen, the readings are set up as if looking down on the car from the top, so each end is O/M/I - I/M/O.

    Go run a few laps, then hit escape and check these temperature readings out. I like to start with a ten-degree difference between the inner and outer, so if my inside is 110 I would like the outside to be around 100. The middle temperature is determined by the tire pressure, and I like this to be in the middle, so ideally it would read 110 - 105 - 100 from inner - middle - outer. If the middle is too low, you need more pressure daddy-o. If the middle's too high, let some air back in the sky. Or something.

    It's also worth noting that more camber can ease rolling resistance in a straight line, and less camber can aid traction (on the rear for corner exit, and on the front for heavy braking zones). As with everything, balance and find the compromise, and definitely experiment too. I've sometimes thrown those ideal numbers out of the window and run maximum camber and minimum pressures for a single-hotlap situation, because I'm not looking to preserve the tires over a race stint and it's not like I'm going to blow the bead off or deal any other damage that would happen to a tire in reality.
    Lower pressures can increase grip in low-speed situations, but won't do a great deal of good to your rolling resistance; they'll also heat up and wear a lot quicker. Likewise, higher pressures may lessen grip, but they'll be able to cope with high loads a lot better.
    This can aid turn-in on the front, and stability on the rear. Negative toe has the fronts of the tires pointing outwards from each other, and positive toe has the fronts pointing in towards each other. Negative toe on the front will aid turn-in at a slight cost to straightline speed, and will also increase tire wear. Positive toe on the rear will aid stability in the rear, but again may harm straightline speed and tire life. It is the norm to have some, though.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  4. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    BRAKES

    It is annoying whenever I see someone spell this as "breaks" or "breaking".

    This is the balance between front and rear brake pressures. More front bias (higher percentage) = more stability under braking, but more potential for front lockups. More rear bias = less stability. Find a balance you're comfortable with; luckily many cars have this adjustable from the cockpit.
    This is a setting of preference; a lower percentage will require more force on the brake pedal, which can help to minimize lockups. A higher pressure will mean more sensitivity and danger of locking. Definitely a feeling thing more than anything else, so use the pressure you feel most comfortable at. If you're in a high-downforce car, such as an F1, then test for this at high speed; the downforce will help traction under braking, so what may be comfortable in the lower-speed sections could mean you're not using full braking potential from high speed. Personally, I'd go for juuuust being able to lock the tires at high downforce levels, provided this doesn't mess with low-downforce sections too badly and make the brake barely usable.
    These direct airflow to the brakes in order to cool them; small ducts are great for speed due to decreased drag, but your brakes may overheat in heavy braking zones. Larger ducts can keep your brakes cooler but increase drag.

    Try to use the ducts to maintain a decent temperature. You used to be able to scout around in the .HDV file to find the optimum brake temperature for any given car, however Reiza have now encrypted the HDVs. Just try and maintain a good temperature which peaks in the heaviest braking zone and doesn't give you cold brakes everywhere else.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  5. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    AERODYNAMICS

    From grip-impaired pleb to upside-down jet fighter.

    One of the only aspects of car setup which can give you speed for free. The logic behind these adjustments is simple; less downforce will ease drag and increase speeds, but grip in the corners and braking distances will suffer. More downforce will help you in the corners and decrease your braking distances, but hurt your speed on the straights. Look at the track to ascertain how to adjust this; tracks with high-speed corners and long straights, such as Spa or Monza, will favour less downforce, whereas twistier tracks with shorter straights will favour more downforce. It's a compromise for sure; at Monza it's well worth giving up a bit of braking distance and cornering for sheer speed over the duration of those monster straights, whereas you'll want to max the downforce at a circuit like Monaco with its tight twisting nature.

    Balance is also key; find a front/rear aero balance which works for you.
    There was really nowhere else to put this quickie, and it does have aerodynamic effect. Radiator size is a tradeoff between drag and engine cooling, with smaller sizes cooling less but also giving less drag, and larger sizes beating on your straightline speed a bit but keeping your engine cool.

    Aim for a size which keeps your engine at the optimum oil temperature, which can be found in the engine.ini, located in gamedata>vehicles>*vehicle folder*. When you're at the optimum oil temperature, you're at maximum power output.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  6. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    DRIVETRAIN

    What every little boy wants to do when he grows up.

    Simple - adjust the final drive ratio to where you're hitting the redline in top gear just as you reach the braking point of the longest straight, or fastest section. For a race setup, consider leaving a little extra speed in at the top end for drafting; you don't want to work your way up to DRS detection only to bang off the limiter when you're about to make a totally sick artificial pass on the guy. You can adjust individual gears if any given gear is just a bit too short, or too tall, for a particular corner, but I can't say I've ever needed to actually fiddle with it that far. Just doing the final drive ratio has always worked for me.

    Notice the gearing graph in the gearing portion of the setup menu. It's a graph, but in basic terms if the red lines are further to the right, the gears are longer and vice versa.
    There are three different differential details one can deploy to differentiate the differential. Coast concerns the lock percentage under deceleration, Power is the lock percentage under acceleration, and Preload deals with mid-corner.

    In a rear-wheel-drive car, the differential naturally only concerns the behavior of the rear end. A higher percentage of coast locking will keep the rear straight and stable under deceleration, whereas a lower percentage will increase the rear end's willingness to step out. I like a fairly low percentage of coast, as it allows me to really point the nose in and make adjustments via throttle modulation.

    A higher percentage of power lock can increase rotation and improve overall traction under power application, whereas a lower percentage will keep the rear end in check at the cost of traction. Too high and you may oversteer as the outside tire is being given more torque; too low, and the inside wheel will be given the lion's share of work and just spin up while the outside wheel does nothing. Find a compromise which has both rear wheels working nicely through the corners.

    Preload, as far as I can tell, comes into play in that mid-corner period where you're hovering on the accelerator and maintaining speed before fully jumping back on the power. Less preload = more rotation, more preload = less rotation.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2017
  7. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    THE BALANCING ACT

    Cool - so how do I throw all of this together?

    As you progress and gain experience, you'll figure out your own workflow, but to get you started I'll give you some things to work on. One fundamental which is crucial to mention is that balance is everything. When I say any given setting will help with a problem, don't just crank that one setting; consider other settings which can help with the same problem and turn all of them a little bit to work together instead of giving one adjustment the lion's share of the issue. Everything is a balance and a compromise. If you face understeer, don't just drop in the softest front anti-roll bar you can find and try making it deal with the entire problem; drop it like one click softer, and maybe give the front toe-out an extra click to help it. Perhaps you can also toss in a click less front bump, and perhaps the coast setting in the differential can also help. All of the parts of the car are there for a purpose, and little adjustments on each can add up to a big effect which can solve your problem. That said, don't adjust a million settings at once unless you really know what you're doing, and even then I'd advise against it. Doing one thing at a time makes it easier to find which setting solved the problem, or was the problem in the first place.

    For how I personally do things, at this point experience allows me to do a basic preliminary setup before I've even left the garage. I drop the ride heights and soften the springs, not quite all the way, and I also reduce downforce. The reason for this is because, at this point, I'm focused on mechanical grip and aerodynamics are basically "free speed" which you can add later, plus having a low-downforce lap time right off the bat will let you see improvement, if any, when you do add aero. I just like to do it that way around. The exceptions are rear-wing-only cars which will just spin automatically when you take off wing, such as the Stock Car V8, and for a single-seater I would actually start with maximum downforce and work the opposite way just because of how downforce-driven they are.

    I set all dampers to the midrange values to take them out of the equasion for now. I also have go-to camber values; they may differ from car to car, but I like popping mine at -3.5 on the front and -2.5 on the back if they aren't already. No real reason, it's just my own starting point I like to take. Same with toe, for some reason I just default to -0.10 on the front and +0.05 on the back.

    After adjusting heights, camber, wings, and springs, I take it out for a lap to see if I'm bottoming out; this just gives me a better indication of where the car is, because default setups are almost always "safe". I also scope out the gearing and where it's at when I reach the highest-speed braking point on the track.

    So, if I'm not redlining in top gear at the highest-speed braking point, I adjust the gearing to suit. If I'm bottoming out, I actually leave the ride height alone and just try stiffer springs at first. If I can't prevent bottoming without putting super-stiff springs in, then it's time to tone down the springs and raise the ride height. I adjust, lap, adjust, lap until I've found the balance between ride height, and spring rate - springs which are soft enough to provide grip, but stiff enough to hold the chassis off the ground, and nicely balanced from front and rear in terms of handling. Also check camber and adjust to get the ideal spread, and tune brake bias if it's atrocious. Locking up a tad too easy is alright if it's a car I've taken aero off of, otherwise make a note and throw a pressure adjustment at it for next time out.

    I've now done this enough to where these major preliminary adjustments don't take long at all to get a ballpark starting point. Now it's onto the slightly finer balance settings; anti-roll bars, differential settings. Once those are done, we have some nice suspension going on, our camber's set to satisfaction, and the anti-roll bars are set to where they're sharing the workload with the springs to provide the balance that I want. I like to be able to point the car with the pedals, so the differential is set up with high power and low coast for that purpose with a preload to suit.

    Then, if I've reduced downforce, I put it back on and see where we're at in terms of bottoming, because downforce will compress the suspension. Go out for a lap, first of all check the aero balance; we already have the mechanical handling balance, so if I have balance issues, it's down to the aero balance. Once the aero balance is right, head out and see if it's bottoming out. If it is, it's a case of increasing the springs and anti-roll bars up together click by click to hold the car up again. Check cambers, adjust if needed.

    Now is the time to stop feeling it out, and start shooting for those optimum laps. Up to this point we were painting the base colour, now it's time to Bob Ross down some details. Break the dampers out of those midrange values and see if we can't get a little bit more entry/exit improvement out of them; since they were reset to midrange to basically nullify them, you know they have at least something to contribute. Click-by-click, work with various settings to really hone that speed in. You want a bit more turn-in, but the springs are giving all they can without bottoming out and the front ARB seems like it's already at a fairly soft value; drop the rear wing a tad more, or put another click of camber in the front. Hell, start trying things - turn up the camber overall, lower the pressures, take a shot in the dark on the amount of aero and see if that has any more to give. Think outside the box, because you might just find something good.

    It's hard for me to define any specific route or workflow, but hopefully that gives you some insight of what to start with and how to approach things. On a final note, the car setup is around 50% of your overall speed - the other 50% comes from comfort. I've told you how I get the most out of the car, but only you know how to get the most out of yourself. Faith in the car and its limits is a gigantic part of this, so while there are a couple of adjustments for outright "free" speed - gearing, aero - you should use the majority of adjustments to hone your comfort and feel above all else. If you're comfortable with it, and you're not burning the tires off the car after two corners, rock it.

    Okay, maybe that's a little more than a typical quick-start guide. But, my goal with this was to share my own plebian experience of how I do things and throw it all together into a quick racecar which feels great in my hands, and put it in simple terms which are easy to understand. This is the setup guide I wanted when I was starting out. Above all else, I wanted to show that it doesn't have to be rocket science with chalkboards full of algebra. It can be, if you want to get into scientific explanations of things, but for just making the setup, hands-on knowledge and a little bit of logic is more than enough.

    This was meant as a launchpad for the beginner - here's some more advanced reading when you want to take the next step. It's likely you'll find stuff that contradicts the paltry twaddle I've written here about my own experiences, so take it in, question, and compare to further your own experience and knowledge. There's no such thing as too much information.

    How To Set Your Car Up! - an AMS setup guide by Chris at RaceDepartment
    The "ULTIMATE" Racing Car Chassis Setup Guide and Tutorial at RaceLineCentral - more oval focused, written for NR2003, but detailed explanations of components and concepts

    If anyone else has any links they like, throw 'em up! The more the merrier.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
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  8. Rob Nelson

    Rob Nelson Member Reiza Backer

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    I haven't had the time to read this yet, but I sincerely thank you for the time and effort. I'm sure there will be something that will help me a great deal.
     
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  9. Auduns75

    Auduns75 RWB Audi Reiza Backer

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    This is what I call a helpful and informative post, thank you very much for this, gonna spend some time reading this and hopefully learn me some tuning.

    Thanks mate
     
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  10. Scraper

    Scraper Well-Known Member Reiza Backer

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    Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to do this. Reiza's forum is friendly and informative - you've made it more so. There is lots of learning, tweaking and testing ahead. All good fun. However, you have missed an essential element of what makes sim racing such an enjoyable pastime.

    Not to worry. I'll take care of the crashing-into-a-wall part of the process. :p
     
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  11. Sando75

    Sando75 New Member

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    I also wanted to say my thanks in here, and will be bookmarking this and using this as my guide to set my cars up from now on. A lot of effort has gone into this post and a lot of people will benefit from it.

    Thanks for your time Ethan:)
     
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  12. hoss2852

    hoss2852 New Member

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    Great post mate. Cheers for the taking the time
     
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  13. fischhaltefolie

    fischhaltefolie Active Member Reiza Backer

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    Dear Mr. Dean,
    thanks for the huge effort you put into this guide.
    I copied it into a text file. It'll be my setup bible.
    Good, understandable explanations.:rolleyes:
     
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  14. Ethan Dean

    Ethan Dean Hotlap Masochist

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    Understandable explanations was certainly the goal, so I'm glad. Thanks all, and if there's any help or clarification you guys need, don't hesitate to ask
     
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  15. Vaken

    Vaken Member Reiza Backer

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    This should be a sticky.
     
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  16. Jakerock

    Jakerock New Member Reiza Backer

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    Very generous of you to put this together, thanks very much!
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2017
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  17. hashegotabeard

    hashegotabeard Active Member Reiza Backer

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    SPOILERS!!!!!111!!!1!!!1
     
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  18. Novotny

    Novotny New Member

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    Superb, thanks a lot.
     
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  19. Daniel Escudero

    Daniel Escudero Onlysimracing.com staff & microyoutuber.

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    WOW thank you very much. I want to start set uping....and this guide is an eye opener!.
     

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