Tyred of making that extra pitstop? – Do’s and doughnuts for your brakes and tyres
You have over 1000 horsepower available, and all the downforce you need to get around those high-speed corners, but you’re going to need to stop sooner or later. Brakes and tyres are essential to make sure the car is stopping the way you want it to.
Brake pressure is how quickly you can go from applying the brakes to stopping the car. This is all about player control, and how gentle you can be on the brake button or trigger. Apply the brakes too hard with high brake pressure, and you will lock up your brakes, causing wear and damage to the tyres and not stopping in time for the corner. If you lower the brake pressures, your car might not lock up, but you won’t have enough force and pressure in the brakes and the car will not stop in time either. Ideally, you should find the right balance for you to be able to reduce your tyre wear and stop in time for the corners.
Brake bias is how the brake pressure is applied to the front and rear brakes. Once again, this is all about balancing stability with handling and predictability of turning. Setting the brake bias to the front stabilises the car in braking zone. However, too much bias to the front means the rear tyres are not working hard enough to slow the car down. This makes the front tyres work harder, creating more tyre wear to the front tyres and a lot of understeer as well. The ideal balance is where all 4 tyres are at even wear, working well for the driver, and there is little to no lock-ups happening during the session.
The tyres are the only part of the car that are in contact with the circuit in normal circumstances (if your wings are, you’ve done something a little wrong). Making sure you get the best out of them can open new strategic options for you in the race and give you a real chance to push up the order.
If they get dirty with grass or gravel, you will lose grip, so be a little cautious as the tyre will need time to clear the debris off it.
Make sure they don’t get too hot, and that you are not putting too much force into them.
Tyres vary in durability, and the longer they are on a car, the more worn they become. If the tyres become so worn that they become undrivable and it can end up costing you multiple seconds a lap. This is called ‘the cliff’ of the tyre, and once the tyre goes past it, the tyre is no longer usable, and life becomes very painful. Always check your ‘tyre status’ with the MFD while on track.
Learning to be kind to your tyres and be smooth on track is vital, especially if you are playing with longer race distances. There are a lot of things you can do on track to drag out those rubber boots such as:
- Staying on the racing line, avoiding dirtier parts of the track
- Being gentle on the brakes, not locking them
- Avoiding sliding and wheelspin. It may look cool and be fun, but it won’t help your race result
- Smooth inputs into the wheel or pad. Turning in more than one motion causes the tyres to work extra hard.
- Avoiding kerbs in races. You will need them in qualifying, but to drag out those tyres, keep away and reap the rewards later in the race
With 13 sets of tyres available, running the right ones at the right time is key. In qualifying, run your softest tyre for maximum performance, especially if you are in the midfield group of cars. In the race, think about durability (how long each set of tyres will last) and find that race-winning strategy you need. It’s more balancing. Can you run harder, slower tyres but make that time difference back and more by doing 1 fewer stop than your rivals? Or do you go for 1 more stop, run the fastest tyres you can, and rely on your attacking driving to overtake everyone in sight?
A common issue you may run into in your F1 and F2™ life is that after your first spin, you just can’t stop spinning. You recover, try to catch up and the result is you doing a donut and your finely tuned racing machine feeling like a bad ice skater. What we recommend is instead of stepping straight on the accelerator, recover gently and re-build the speed. Spinning the car, especially if you end up on the grass or in the gravel, gets the rear tyres hot, causing them to lose grip. Coming back to track and attacking will just cause the cars to spin as they have not had time to cool down and normalise again.
Next week, we’ll be getting all of our ducks in a row and taking a look at wet weather driving!