24 August 2011

Why having the right balance is key to a good race weekend

Many of the teams tend to do a lot of testing during the winter or during the middle of the year. It’s the most important time to develop the car and do loads of laps to assimilate the car’s capabilities.

My engineer and I work very hard at this time to find the best setup that suits my driving style as well as finding the best setup to suit the track.  We do a lot of long race runs as well as some short hot lap stints. It is always a challenging task as the track is ever evolving with the level of grip, the amount  of wind and on top of that, the changeable weather conditions.
With the information we have and the laps we have done in testing, we normally arrive at the weekend having a base setup. And from there, we tweak the car and make minor adjustments to adapt to the grip levels we have at the circuit.
A racing car can only react in two simple ways. You either have understeer or oversteer.  Understeer is when there is a lack of front-end grip and the front pushes on. On the other hand, oversteer is when the rear lacks support or grip and slides on. Normally you will get oversteer as the rear tyres degrade.

The communication between the driver and the engineer is always very important, especially with the feedback to the engineer from the driver, which needs to be very precise, for example:
1. The rate of the understeer?
2. How does the understeer react? Is it the bumps on the track that are causing the understeer?
3. Lack of front-end downforce?
And the list goes on. The more precise the driver can be the more you can help the engineer to give you a car with the right balance; the one that suits you and the track the best.
Personally I like to analyze the data and I am always talking to my engineer about it. We will discuss and find the solutions to our problem. Having the right balance is always key to my race weekend.

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