Jump to content


Setups for modern F1

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 HoldenRT

  • Member

  • 6,032 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 28 June 2011 - 05:08

I love modern F1.. and I am pretty geeky with setups and driving in general and it can be fun to discuss. I know the 70's and 80's F1's are popular with the old farts here :p , couldn't help you there.. I slide everywhere with those things but with modern F1 it fits like a glove.

I am happy to extend my F1 related waffles on the topic of setup if anyone wants any help with someone specific. I was always able to make my league teammates faster, sharing setups and talking about certain corners etc.

I know it's a bit of a taboo for some and scary at first.. but it can be interesting and it's like a suit. It never fits as well unless it's tailored for your body. F1 2010's layout is quite simple so it can be a good way to ease yourself into it, vs some of the other sims that use real world measurements.

It also helps to understand what happens on the TV.. or to relate to it better.

So setups, how to drive a certain track or corner.. excessive tyre wear.. a better quali pace etc etc.

Like teammates in a garage during a race weekend, talking about it can help both sides. Instead of PM's it seemed it could help others if they are also experiencing similar difficulties with something. To be able to read about it in a proper topic.

I have found so far that everything I've learned from other sims has related to F1 2010 the same way, so it's like you can learn this stuff once and it can transfer onto F1 2011, or rF2 or some other future title.


#2 HoldenRT

  • Member

  • 6,032 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 28 June 2011 - 06:13


In open wheelers like F1.. it is so aero related, the cars are so light and the apex speeds so fast.. setup is very crucial, vs a tintop spec series or something. There is so much they can change. You are supposed to drive for laps and laps while "attacking" and be able to tip toe to the edge, even go over it slightly occasionally..

And that is virtually impossible unless the setup is both suited to the track, but also to your preferences. How do you do that if it feels like a pig? It should be for the least amount of resistance, to be able to do lap after lap like it's on rails.. and to be predictable when pushing too far. As the tyre wears, the car slides.. but if it's already sliding too much in the early laps what will it be like at the end of the stint when they are worn out? Can you still attack or will you have to "putt putt" around waiting until your stop?

The way downforce works.. the more speed you have (like the exit from the previous corner), the more wind is blowing on the wings, the more grip you have in the corner.. so higher entry speed means more downforce at the beginning of the corner.. so it's a compound effect. Go faster, get more grip, push harder, carry more speed, have more speed leading to the next corner.. go faster push harder. Especially somewhere like S3 at Valencia.

The setup needs priority on the corners that are most important for that circuit. This is where knowledge of track characteristics, racing with others, or time trials with fast ghost laps can help reveal where you are losing out.

For the other corners, it helps to be able to drive around problems like oversteer or understeer, because the in 2010 the balance of the car is always changing as the fuel loads are so huge and also it's impossible to optimise the car for every corner. It's a series of comprimises, and you best know how to be careful or to attack which corners, when you are the one who made the setup and the comprimises. To improve understeer would be to add front wing while in the car, and/or to turn in more aggressively and earlier.. and to nurse oversteer would be to make gentler movements on the wheel and treat the throttle like it is wet or run deeper in to the corners, getting on the power later when the car is more straightened up.


The faster you go.. the more downforce you have. Which means the lighter your car is the more downforce you have. It could be possible to reduce wing and still have more downforce if it means a much higher entry speed into the corner due to more straight line speed. The faster you go, the more the suspension becomes "loaded" as the downforce pushes the car into the road. This means that the ride height slowly reduces from the beginning of a straight to the end.. and at the end of the straight it can actually cost some straight line speed due to "bottoming out" as the floor scrapes the road. There is 3rd springs, extra dampers and bump stops to try and prevent this but these aren't in F1 2010. It's a comprimise so that the ride height can be at optimum level in the corners that matter the most for the laptime. Redbull seemed to do this and run very low in 2009 and 2010. There is no corners that have apex speeds of 300km/h so it won't be bottoming out the same way in the corner, unless there is a big bump in the corner or braking zone.

As the ride height is reduced (through more downforce on the wings, or reducing it in suspension settings) you gain downforce from both methods.. but it also stiffens up the car by default. Trial and error is used for the best comprimise. Low ride height and less wings always seems to work better though for best downforce/drag ratio. Even if you have to adjust suspension to compensate.

In 2010, there is so much underbody downforce due to double diffusers, the front and rear wings have less impact vs the overall downforce of the car. Especially vs older seasons of F1. So it means you can reduce wings and still carry alot of speed into the corners (on low fuel at least, because entry speeds are very high) and the extra wing would be more useful for stability and tyre wear reasons rather then high speed corners alone. To eek out extra laps on a stint, or improve the handling when the car is full of fuel and very lazy in changes of direction. Often aero balance can be more important then total wing though.. and the wing/drag level is for a large part predetermined by the track. The rest is balance changes for driver preference, or a dry or wet setup which would also effect gearing etc. So it's more about the ratio of front to rear wing that can help get the car into the corners. Having higher front wing always helps as fast corners tend to understeer and rear wing has the greatest drag penalty. Something like 6 4 or 7 5 would be middle of the range.

Keep in mind that for corners that have apex speed of 200km the downforce effect is high, especially for turn 1 at Silverstone.. at 250+ but as you get to 150, 140, 120 etc the effect becomes less and less. Meaning you could be adding wing and drag, but not seeing much benefit in those corners. In those corners the balance would be more important or the exit from a previous corner. While Monaco is a very high downfornce circuit, there isn't actually many fast corners.. Casino square and swimming pool chicane.. it's just that there is a low drag penalty. So they run the wing regardless even if it can cost some time on the run up the hill or out of the tunnel. The extra wing isn't helping at the hairpin or turn 1 very much, for example. Hungary has a similar characterstic, except it has a long straight and also 2 fast corners.. so more drag penalty but also more need for downforce.


Cornering in race cars is all about the weight of the car, how it changes during braking, or turn in, or mid corner or exit etc. Even on a long straight there is a slow weight transfer as the rear is slowly squashed into the ground more and more.. as the speed (downforce) increases.

The suspension is all about tailoring the weight transfer in a way that makes all 4 wheels have contact to the road and on the bumps.. but also to control the responsiveness to the car in general to the track or drivers demands. A stiff car is more responsive but can "skate" more like a skateboard... and a soft car can have superior grip but will be "lazy". F1 cars are very stiff compared to other race cars but different tracks need different settings. Smooth tracks or tracks with fast corners need stiffer suspension and bumpy or traction tracks need softer suspension.

Basically.. when you brake.. all the weight goes fowards and if you turn in at the wrong point.. The heavier the braking zone the higher the transfer of wieght, turn 1 in Monza being the biggest stop. Big changes foward shifts of weight can make the rear wheels very unstable and "light" as all the momentum and weight is fowards. The same way the drivers head goes fowards. The front springs help control/resist to that and the dampers are fine tuning. Rebound dampers would be working to "hold on" to the weight on the rear as it's pushed fowards and bump dampers would be working on the front to resist the push fowards. Mid corner the car settles down and there is the slow transfer back onto the rear. The more weight on the rear axle, the more grip and the better the car can accelerate.. which is why you move the cars weight backwards for tracks that need traction. (And further fowards for fast corners so that it can manage high speeds yet still respond to the steering to turn in).. Entering a fast corner the weight is on the rear.. fast corners don't have braking zones that put the weight to the front. The extra weight on the front wheels makes them more responsive at high speeds. Softer springs resist less but can offer more grip but stiffer springs can respond quicker. Stiffer rear springs aren't usually good for traction. You want gradual shifts in weight as fast changes can be unstable but IMO this is more about how it feels while driving and what the stopwatch says and less about words on a page.

Anti roll bars do the same thing except from the weight transfer of left to right. So you can have a car that is stiff from left or right, or one that is soft. Especially for quick changes in direction like chicanes. They can also be used to tweak the car balance in slow corners from front to rear.. a really important one from track to track. Like inducing oversteer on a track that has lots of slow understeery corners. It's similar to front and rear wing balance but for corners where the speed is so slow, downforce has little effect. The weight is always on the outside wheels in a corner but the roll bars can decide help to tweak that.

So the springs and roll bars together, act like a team to control the weight as it goes in all 4 directions under braking or accelerating. The effect happens at any speeds it's just that as the downforce is reduced, it starts to become more soley put onto the suspension and "mechanical grip".

#3 HoldenRT

  • Member

  • 6,032 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 28 June 2011 - 07:40


In F1 2010 tyre settings are very simplified. In real life tyres are like a black art and even act like another form of suspension that absorbs curbs or bumps. For a qualifying lap low pressures are used to maximise the contact patch and increase friction/temperatures. For a stint higher pressures are used to preserve life. There are 3 bands to measure tyre temp, the inner middle and outer temps. Pressures are also used to control the middle and outer temps.. while camber is used to control the inner temps.

Camber is the tilt or angle the tyre sits on, the fronts especially use aggressive camber settings. When at a stand still it looks strange but they are optimised to have maximum contact patch while the suspension is compressed and loaded in the middle of the corner.. Camber is something that can easily generate more inner heat and heat overall but at the cost of tyre wear. Toe in is also used in a similar way except it is wear the wheels turn in towards each other like a persons feet, where they toes are pointed inwards. Toe out is the opposite.. for the heat of the tyre, it's never possible to balance out the temps equally.. the inside will always be hotter.. but the closer to equal temps the better. Turn 3 in Barcelona is a place where lots of front left camber can be a tyre killer, but in F1 2010 asyemetric setups aren't possible.

All of these things adjust how aggressively the car uses it's tyres. Good for generating heat in harder tyres or on cool days or for qualifying laps but bad for long stints.

It also goes hand in hand with the driver though.

Tyre wear is accelerated with dirty air, or excessive sliding and heat.. especially when they are already worn, to slide on them can be disaster it can become a snowball effect. Trying to balance the heat, load and wear through all 4 wheels but similar to the temps, it's never possible to wear all 4 equally. Especailly on a circuit which has mostly turns in one direction. Lots of left turns for example.

It's possible that while a cars tyre settings could be aggressive if he drives gently he could have less tyre wear then another car that has "gentle" camber and toe settings, but keeps sliding in the corners too much. The driver needs a setup that can be "attacked" the way he likes to attack with as little slide as possible. Some sliding is inevitable, and also higher engine modes can have more effect on tyre wear.


It's easy to think you know a track but it could be the 20th lap of the race, your tyre is worn down and you want to do 1 more lap before changing tyres.. you get to a corner and slide wide.. hit a bump that you didn't know was there.. spin and all the sudden you are in the gravel with worn dirty tyres..

You could be making the setup stiffer and it makes the car quicker in every corner except for that one spot where there is a bump in the braking zone so you have to brake earlier to adjust spinning/losing alot of time. For somebody else, the bump might not be a problem. For a wet race.. high fuel, low fuel.. after a while there is specific turn in points and keys to the lap that was help in wet or dry conditions etc but it can take many of laps until the habits are ingrained. Once ingrained, those same habits can transfer onto different models of the same track, different cars assuming both versions of the track are accurate etc.

Every corner of a track, or most, have a "trick" to them and learning those makes a wider window to work with (less chance of spin or running wide).. even when on worn tyres. Every corner is like a puzzle that needs to be solved. A wider window for error helps to be able to drive around problems like a damaged front wing, or some understeer without losing time. How to hit a curb a certain way.. having an early or late apex.. trying to carry extra speed into the corner, or to make sure to get a good exit. Different tracks expose different aspects like Melbourne and Canada with heavy braking, while Monaco and Singapore being less about braking and more about accuracy and traction.

Some corners it's like there are "booby traps" waiting to catch you.. like a curb waiting to spin you if your inside wheel hits it, or a corner that makes the rear very light on entry and recognising all of these can help to push lap after lap without being caught out.

Some tracks like Brazil or Canada have very few corners and it's all about getting them perfect every time, and the difference between competitors is very small (more like an oval) while other tracks like Singapore or Spa have lots of corners and it's easier to gain time without driving a perfect lap.

The traction zones that are on a curve are very important.. in quali or at the start of a stint, the car is heavy and the tyres are fresh.. the grip is high and it's no problem. As the car becomes lighter, the balance changes, the springs become less loaded and the car becomes lighter and more prone to spin. Every lap into a stint the traction zones start to become more and more apparent. It's common to have to "drive around" problems like this.. for example always making sure to be on the throttle as you go through parts of the circuit where the car can become unsettled. Being on throttle means keeping more weight on the rear aiding rear stability and helping to prevent a spin. On fresh tyres it might not be an issue due to high levels of grip but beware aware of the potential "booby traps" for that track can help more then trying to alter the setup to compensate for it (which could comprimise laptime).

Real life drivers make very rounded semi circle turns and know exactly which curbs to punish and which to stay clear of.. where the tyres need to "hook in" to certain lines etc. Knowing the track means being able to carry extra speed into a corner, knowing early when you are going to run wide.. spotting the brake points early and having ways to get out of trouble after a mistake, to lose a tenth rather then hit the wall and DNF etc etc.


Gearing is a really good way to finetune to balance of the car in certain corners without changing the wings or anti roll bars. Longer gears understeer more, shorter gears turn in easier but sacrifice some apex speed.. higher gears can help carry higher apex speeds but run the risk of running wide.. and lower gears help to ensure the turn in but sacrifice some apex or exit speed. By adjusting the gears, a sweet spot can be reached for the best of both. Especially for somewhere like Melbourne with alot of heavy braking zones and 3rd/4th gear 90 degrees turns.

Time trials are a really good way to see how gearing and wing works because sometimes shorter gears really help with acceleration and bumping into the limiter before the end of the straight is actually quicker, then trying to hit the limiter right at the end of the straight. The other 6 gears can be tuned better for traction or turn in for the corners of that circuit. Or just to ensure smooth accelleration between all gears. Sometimes lengthening 5th or 6th can avoid the limiter, where another upshift wouldn't be ideal. Sometimes the feel of the gear can make a big difference like the final turn in Canada. A longer gear can help carry more speed but the margin of error for the corner becomes smaller.

When braking.. "engine braking" is very important in F1 cars. In other sims, downshifting too quickly means a blown engine or a rear lockup.. in F1 2010, this isn't modelling and you can go crazy. It's important to downshift very quickly and to be in the right gear for the corner as early as possible. It's very rhythmic. The rapid downshifting has as much effect of reducing speed as the foot on the brake pedal.

Downshifting can work very well on the entry to fast corners when combined with a sharp turn in.. hitting the apex and getting a good exit can be the same speed but there can be alot of time gained on entry... by only downshifting the drag and engine decellerating and front wheels scrubbing off the speed. Pouhon at Spa and the fast right hander at China in S2 are two examples.

#4 HoldenRT

  • Member

  • 6,032 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:22


Braking and brake bias is very important for being able to carry extra speed into a corner.. but when it comes to the heavy braking zone means more risk in terms of rear lockups, spins or running wide. The gain comes in the rest of the corners where it's easier to avoid running wide with the extra speed. 52-55% rear bias helps with this as it helps to turn to car easier, while higher values at the front can induce understeer when the brake is tapped. If you are already running wide and tap the brake, the last thing you want to be doing is further inducing understeer.

For heavy braking zones "threshold braking" helps to skate on the edge of rear lockup in heavy braking zones. By first pressing maximum pressure while releasing the pedal slowly to always be just about locking up but not quite. Or having small fishtail slides but having it under control. In F1 cars it happens very quickly except for the very long braking zones. It's always better to be on the safe side as running wide or missing the corner always loses alot more time then braking earlier and losing a tenth. Exits are always more important as they setup the speed onto the long straights and in a stint, you can always try to brake a shade later the following lap. And inch closer and closer to the maximum. There is always a moment when the rear is vulnerable to being light and wanting to spin and with limited options in F1 2010, a tap or low % of throttle through the corner helps keep wieght onto the rear. Threshold braking and the fast downshifts of the gears go hand in hand. Braking stability is more about suspension settings then wing, but more downforce can help as it rapidly reduces as the top speed is lost. Looking for stability on the turn in after braking late.

Trail braking means deliberately braking all the way to the apex (still braking after you've turned in), deliberately carrying extra speed through the first phase of the corner and bleeding it off in the middle.. and is especially good for corners that require late apexes where you are stealing time on the entry vs someone who is lifting off the brake when they turn in.

Turning in is very important as it lays the foundation for the whole corner, especially medium and fast corners. Run wide on entry and everything is comprimised. Turn in too sharp or without enough speed and the downforce is reduced and the exit is comprimised. High apex speeds mean high exit speeds, even if you are getting on the throttle later. The worst thing you can do in an F1 car is brake early, turn in gently with low speed.. and then get on the power really hard to compensate for it.

A big key is being able to turn into the corner with too much speed.. bleed it off while turning the first half of the semi circle on the steering (or braking).. and then decide when the right time to get back on the power once you know you can still get a good exit. Braking slightly earlier and turning in earlier can mean getting on the power earlier for better traction and exit can be more important when the corner leads to a long straight.. every corner is different for what can be possible.

The right line makes all of this alot easier and mowing over curbs on the exit help maximise the track and enable to carry more apex speed while braking later and still getting a good exit. Driving semicircles is much more effective on most corners, compared to hexagons or octagons.

Forgetting if you are carrying to much speed or not, being on the throttle is always a more stable then being off throttle. Due to the weight as mentioned in weight transfer section. And F1 cars are so grippy that it's better carrying slightly too much speed into corners and scrubbing it off mid corner compared to braking too early and not carrying enough speed in the middle of the corner. Except for point and squirt tracks where exit is everything.

In the "traction" zones the throttle needs to be applied very gently and anticipating as slides as wheelspin pops up. Especially when the traction zone is on a curve like turn 7 at Canada. Straight line traction zones are less important but on a stint, alot of wheelspin is never good. A small amount is okay for a good exit but any exit wears the tyres out more.

Anticipating wheelspin means losing a tenth instead of half a second while you try to avoid spinning into the wall due to too much power on low grip tyres. For understeering traction zones like the final corner for Melbourne or Hungary means deliberately inducing oversteer in the car to get the car to turn easier for a better exit but only to the point of a small slide, rather then big slide which will be a loss of time. Being comfortable with your setup and knowing where the edge is means being able to push to the edge and attack without risking a spin. Taking small risks that gamble a tenth or two rather then a spin that loses seconds. (Especially in the wet) Pushing but being comfortable and in a rhythm at the same time. The track knowledge, driver and setup all working in unison together.


By default the controller settings for wheel are very lazy. A big deadzone and not very responsive. For F1 the steering device needs to be super responsive.. very little to no deadzone.. so that if you turn the wheel full left or full right very quickly.. the front tyres track it very quickly also. You need only as much steering lock as to be able to turn the slowest/sharpest hairpin of the circuit. For all of the other corners, especially fast corners, less steering lock is better for quicker turn in. FFB to taste.

The wheels pedals need seperate axis so that you can depress both throttle and brake at same time if needed. Some controllers use 1 axis for both throttle and brake and this is not ideal for racing. Usually driver or controller settings can change that.

If wheel isn't available controller like X Box controller is best solution as being able to give "progressive" inputs is very important in racing and tapping keyboard buttons can't replicate it.

#5 HoldenRT

  • Member

  • 6,032 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:39

Posted this in a PM but may as well post it here too..


This is what I'd suggest in order to get into the habit of making your own setups.

Pick a track where you are good at.. so that you don't need to learn the track and the setups at the same time.

Do your best time in time trial mode. Exit, so that it stores that time in the records..

Choose a couple of people who are slightly better then that time (takes some time to scroll through the list but it d be worth it) like 2 tenths, 5 tenths 1 sec etc and load up their ghost files against yours.

Race against their ghosts and see where they are quicker. If it's faster corners, add wing or move weight to the front (and turn in early and hard for those corners) which means more speed carried through.

If it's the straights take off as much wing as possible. If it's medium speed corners work on balance.. or on the corners leading up to it.. like at Valencia.. the exit of the slow corners before the fast corners in S3 are the whole key to S3 as you carry the extra speed through the lot of them.

If it's slow corners work on suspension.. anti roll bars and susp changes the slow corner balance.. but it also changes the overall wieght transfer left to right.. so anti roll of 8 5 is different to 10 7 or 7 4 etc etc. For smooth tracks stiffer the better, but if you start sliding in places you don't usually, you know it's too far. Fast corners like stiff springs, traction or bumpier circuits like soft springs.

It's like you are reverse engineering their setup but it also teaches you valuable tools for yourself. Much better then if they sent their setup to you. So if you had a wet race on 30 secs notice you could do a good guess for a stable wet setup.. or if it's a race that has no tyre wear.. or to be stronger under braking etc.

After you start doing the same thing for a few different tracks, you'd start to notice patterns and habits. The setups wouldn't work for full fuel properly but it shows the "optimum" for each corner which is a nice base to work with.. before adding some stability back to counter tyre wear. Something that's easier to do when you know how and why your setup works. The changes to make it stable are minor tweaks rather then drastic changes.

The time trialing is less about rhythm and more about banzaing every corner, but it still helps to find the groove and where the cars "rails" are supposed to be. The setup just helps to make it so the car follows those rails with the least resistance possible. It's more ideal to do it in a practice session with full fuel but that is also more time consuming and in and out laps can be frustrating in order to make changes compared to "return to garage" and jumping straight to the flying lap.

If you wanted to post any questions and I don't see it, PM me, as I mightn't check this topic very often. I've typed alot of crap lately, it's lucky this stuff is so fun. :p Hopefully this topic can help people who are new to the whole F1 setup thing. And be used as a reference if needed. I know it can get complicated but I learned this stuff many years ago and haven't had to since. It helps to jump straight into anything and then it's just a case of calibrating yourself with that games way of doing things. It's ALOT more fun to feel it all in your hands vs typing or reading it on a page. Until you get to that point, it can help to read about it though. A necessary evil.

Edited by HoldenRT, 29 June 2011 - 00:56.

#6 Kucki

  • Member

  • 1,286 posts
  • Joined: June 09

Posted 29 June 2011 - 00:55

This is a great help when trying to setup the Williams FW31 in the iRacing.com Simulation