Posted on , by Rob

How grip is generated in a race car

F1 Tyres

Being fast at Codemasters F1 series, like any simulation racing game, is all about understanding grip, what it is and how it's generated. 

At its essence grip is the tyre's friction co-efficient x weight

There are two aspects to grip:

  • Mechanical
  • Aerodynamic

The mechanical aspect controls the left side of the above equation, the friction co-efficient of the tyre, while the weight is controlled by aerodynamics.

Aerodynamics are used to control downforce, which is a downward pressure on the car increasing its weight and thus it's grip levels.


Mechanical Grip

Mechanical Grip is optimised by ensuring the tyre is maintaining maximum contact with the road at all times.  This contact does not include slipping.  If you're wheels are spinning, your tyres have broken contact with the ground, the friction co-efficient is basically 0 and no matter how much weight you have, you're grip is nothing. 

The easiest way to think about it is Mechanical Grip is controlled by what's underneath the car, and Aerodynamic Grip is controlled by what's on top, now that we don't have ground-effect cars, and although the rear-diffuser is hugely important, it is not adjustable in F1 2011.  Mechanical grip is controlled by springs, anti-roll bars, and camber and caster.


Aerodynamic Grip

Aerodynamic grip is all important at high speed tracks, tracks with fast sweeping turns and smooth surfaces, like Spa-francorchamps or Catalunya.  Mechincal Grip is king at slow tracks such as Monaco and also you to get better drive out of slow speed corners.  At a track like Monaco, Aerodynamic Grip is next to useless and at a track like Catalunya, Mechanical Grip plays a tiny part on lap pace.   Aerodynamic grip is controlled by the front and rear wings and the gap between the road and the bottom of the car, which also factors in the wing settings pushing the car down, the ride height and the spring stiffness.  Soft springs will mean make the aerodynamic downforce push the car down more than hard springs.  The correct ride height needs to take this into consideration.

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