One of the first thing any iracers find when stepping up from rookie class, is that they are suddenly required to manage car settings to be able to race competitively. This can be somewhat daunting after racing the rookie series where its a relatively simple matter of "show up and race", without the worries of what fuel levels are needed or what brake bias and anti-roll setting suit your driving best.
Thankfully iRacing provide a "Setup Guide" in PDF format, that covers the basic terminology and gives an informative understanding of what many changes will do to your car. This is a must read for anyone trying to learn how to adjust a car setup for the first time.
For ease of finding it, ive uploaded the official iRacing >Setup Guide HERE<
for anyone to download and read.
Rather than try to explain any of those car setting myself, the guide provides a good resource to fall back on, when you are looking for certain characteristic changes to your car. What is worth explaining here is how you should go about the task of deciding what characteristics of your car you wish to change.
The first thing you should do with when approaching a new car or track combination is choose a baseline setup thats suitable for the track you are driving. (iRacing provides baselines setups in various forms for each car, such as Low - Mid - High downforce setups). At this point a driver need not worry about comparative laps times with other drivers, but rather drive until they can achieve consistent laps times with the baseline setup (laps that are consecutively within a margin or around 1 second of each other).
This is done so that you can then have a clear idea of what the car is doing in each corner, or section, of the track, and therefore you will have a clearer idea what you would prefer the car to be doing. Without consistent laps times as a base understanding, car setups changes become confusing and less than constructive.Notes Notes Notes
Here is where we gather the information you have gained by all those consistent laps. You should now have an understanding of what your car is doing on all sections of the track - Is it hard to turn the nose into turn 1? Is the rear end of the car wanting to spin around through that fast sweeping turn? Are you finding the front brakes locking up into many corners?
Using what you recall from your laps, and even watching your replays to see better what your car was doing, you should now be falling back to the "old fashion" pen and paper. Writing notes on each turn, commenting those characteristic that you liked or disliked about the car in each section, so that you then have clear data that cant be mistaken by memory as you build your set.ExampleTurn 1.
Fronts wheels were locking early
On corner entry car turned in well to apex, stable
On corner exit is hard to keep the rear end from sliding and keep traction
When you then have an overall set of notes for the track you are driving, you can start to see any common characteristics, and get the overall "picture". - Is it just one corner where its hard to turn in, or is the car behaving this way through all the turns?
- You dont want to compromise a setup for the overall feel, just to benefit one corner. But where the issue is common it becomes a more important matter to adjust in your car.One At A Time
Now you have gathered your data, and with help of the setup guide, its time to make some changes to your car. The biggest mistake you can make here is adjusting more than one item of your cars settings at any time. By doing that you lose the ability to judge what change has helped, or what change has hindered, your setup changes. One change at a time is crucial to finding improvements in a structured, efficient way - anything else becomes a stab in the dark.
Gear ratios, brake bias, and wing settings (where applicable) would be a good starting place, depending on the characteristic changes your notes have lead you to seek. They will make the most immediate differences to your car.
More detailed changes such as anti-roll or suspension properties should ideally come after you have adjusted those other settings, and have reached an improved consistent lap time. Making good use of the iRacing Setup Guide will help greatly in these areas.Summing It Up
Following through those steps, as a basic guide, will start you towards a setup that suits your personal driving style and character as you are forced to think constructively, and repeatedly, about what you and your car are doing. The more you repeat the steps (eg, after some setup changes have been done, go and drive consistent laps again, and make revised notes) the closer you will come to finding changes that help, and the more you will understand how each setup option changes the behaviour of your car.
Its very easy to go find a setup posted on the iRacing forum, or similar places, but very often these setups are made by people using very extreme car settings, that can be very hard for a new driver to adapt their driving style to, leading to much frustration and confusion. It also doesnt help gain an understanding of your cars settings.
Breaking things down to a corner by corner analysis of your driving, and cars behaviour, should help you improve your racing and help you find consistent laps.