Gamers new to sim racing will find the physics and rules different than in arcade racing. These tips will help ensure your experience is as enjoyable as possible.
Here are a quick few things to keep in mind when you begin your sim racing career:
1. When encountering traffic, you may need to alter your driving line, speed, or braking point to avoid collisions. All good drivers do this.
2. When braking hard, always brake in a straight line.
3. When accelerating hard, it's best to do in a straight line, too.
4. Never floor the gas pedal in a tight turn.
5. Never abruptly lift off the throttle completely at high RPMs in low gears.
6. Don't shift down if you're out of control (auto-gears can spin the cars like this).7. Brake early for corners when learning a new car or track then gradually push the brake point further as you get to know it.
8. Avoid first corner pileups. The primary causes of first corner pileups are
a. Cold brakes / tyres.
b. Trying to pass before there is an opportunity.
9. Don't cheat by shaving off corners / chicanes.
10. Don't keep the throttle floored constantly. Achieving fast lap times requires finesse and skillful braking/accelerating.
11. Learn the track.
12. Watch your mirrors.
Accelerating seems like such a simple task. You put your foot down, and the car goes. But to get the most out of the car and accelerate as quickly as possible, there are a few techniques to learn. We'll also cover good shifting technique as it is critical to achieving maximum acceleration.
First some quick tips:
1. Don't just slam your foot down on the gas pedal. This will cause your rear tyres to slip and you'll end up either spun around or in a wall.
2. Don't stab the throttle on and off with your foot. Quick kicks of the gas pedal will unbalance the car and make it easy for you to lose control. Apply pressure smoothly in a progressive manner.
3. Only accelerate hard in a straight line. Applying too much throttle in a corner is a sure way to end up looking the wrong way on the track. Save the full throttle for when you're heading in a straight line.
Optimally, you want to accelerate as hard as you can with just the smallest amount of wheelspin. This lets you know the tyre is at the limit of grip and is pushing you as much as it can. It can take some time to learn exactly where that limit is in your car, however.
When accelerating hard you generally want to get your revs up just into the red zone before shifting. All cars have an engine speed at which they are producing maximum power and torque. This is the peak of the powerband, and generally it occurs just before the RPM red line. Learning where the peak is will help you extract the best performance out of the car. The faster the engine is revving when you upshift, the faster it will be revving in the next gear, and the faster the car can climb the HP curve back up to the peak, maximizing acceleration.
Gear heads may raise the RPM limiter in the garage to get higher into the powerband, but this is a dangerous game, especially for endurance races. The longer your engine is in the red, the hotter it gets, and if it gets too hot - BLAM! Your race is over.
There are some times that you'll want to shift earlier, too (a.k.a. short-shifting). Around certain corners, especially with big altitude changes - exiting Acque Minerale at Imola, for example - if you rev too high in a lower gear it's extremely easy to spin the tyres and it's tricky to hold the right amount of throttle. If you find yourself spinning out in these situations, just short shift to the next gear and you'll be able to apply more throttle without as much danger. You won't accelerate as quickly as you could, but it's better to go forward slowly than be stuck in the gravel.
The last thing we're going to cover is power oversteer, also known as 'drifting', when the back end is sliding around a corner faster than the front end. Drifting is an extremely advanced technique that requires loads of practice and precise car control. It may look cool, but it's going to slow you down quite a bit and wear your tyres out faster than anything else.
The slick tyres on these GT cars do not have a forgiving slip angle like a radial street tyre, making sideways driving even trickier. Add the fact that the strong aerodynamic components on the car want to keep you going straight, and you're going to have trouble.
In this context, power oversteer is really only useful in extreme situations to correct a bad corner entry or to correct other mistakes, however, oversteer itself is considered a driving mistake. It's much better and much faster just to keep a tight racing line and plan your corner entry for a gentle curve.
The first thing to learn to do well with any race car, and perhaps the least complicated at first glance, is to slow the car down using the brakes.
The braking system on a modern race car is the most powerful system on the car and should be treated as so. It can quickly (almost instantly) overpower your tyres' grip if no thought of control is used. So, before you can begin to think about cornering, you need to come to grips with stopping the car in a controlled manner - and from fairly high speed.
Here are some tips to get you started (or stopped):
1. Don't just slam on the brakes as hard as you can. This will lock up your tyres, causing you to take longer to slow down, wear out your tyres, and possibly cause you to lose control.
2. Brake early. Until you really know your car and the track, take it easy and build your speed up and gradually move your braking points back.
3. Brake in a straight line. This will help you keep control, avoid accidents, and balance the car in corners.
4. If you're skidding when off the track, brake softer, not harder. Off the track it's too easy to lock up your tyres and go sliding into a wall. By softening your braking, your tyres can spin a little, which allows you to steer.
Those are the basics. You can go test those out now, or read on for more detail.
The main idea in braking technique is to apply the brakes in a smooth progressive manner, increasing pressure with a rapid squeeze, rather than slamming them on. Doing the latter usually leads to locked tyres and smoke billowing out of the wheel wells. While it might look impressive, a locked tyre will increase your braking distance and can cause you to overshoot the corner entrance for a trip onto the grass - or hitting the car in front of you that was braking properly.
A rolling tyre stops much better than a locked one. Remember that.
The best drivers can predict when tyre lockup will occur and will balance the braking force right on that fine line to achieve the best braking efficiency.
When learning braking technique, you should start with medium speed, leaving plenty of distance to the corner entry. Gradually work your speed up and try to get to the point where you can feel the brakes lockup then learn to recognize that through the different feedbacks your car and your steering wheel give.
Tyre noise will get louder as you get closer to lockup. The steering will get light and kick around a bit, the rear of the car might start to step out some. The bumpier the area is where you are braking, the harder it will be to avoid some brake lockup. As we go over bumps the tyres will momentarily unload (no longer have the car's weight on it) and with no weight on a tyre it will lock up easily. Again, feel the clues from the steering feedback for this and release a bit of pedal pressure until you feel back in control.
Crucial to achieving fast lap times, proper cornering technique is also fundamental to understanding how to pass and stay in front.
Let's start with a few basic rules:
1. Never jerk the steering wheel. This is a guaranteed ticket to spinning off the track.
2. Don't turn the wheel until it stops to make a tight corner. This will only make things worse, as you'll begin to just slide forward (understeer), and then once your tyres do regain grip it will spin you around. Only in extreme hairpins will you ever need to turn the steering wheel all the way (full lock).
3. Don't brake while cornering. This will nearly always make you understeer off the track. Instead, brake in a straight line before the corner, then release the brakes and begin to turn into the corner, and lightly press the gas pedal to maintain your current speed (don't accelerate) to balance the car.
4. Use as much of the track as possible. Going wider in corners allows you to maintain higher speeds.
5. Steer as little as possible to still make the corner. Going easy on the steering wheel will ensure you're taking maximum advantage of your tyres' grip, reduce wear on your tyres, and help you maintain maximum cornering speed. It also will help you stay planted on the track and avoid nasty surprises.
6. Always think 2 corners ahead. If you're just thinking about the corner in front of you, you'll rarely have the ideal setup/positioning for the following corner.
Now let's go into some detail on how to take corners in different situations to help us go as fast as we can. I'm going to cover just three main corner types, standard/mid apex, early apex, and chicanes.
CORNERING - MID APEX
This is the fundamental cornering technique on the most basic corner.
Let's take a look at the anatomy of a mid apex corner.
The basic concept to fast cornering is out-in-out.
Using the widest possible arc when cornering allows you to carry more speed through the corner, helping you to achieve your best lap times.
1. Start on the outside of the corner, as far as you can safely drive and do all your braking in a straight line until you're at a good cornering speed (determined with experience),
2. Release the brake pedal and gently begin to turn into the corner, while softly applying pressure to the throttle to maintain your cornering speed (not accelerating).
3. Continue increasing steering until you are aiming for the very inside of the middle of the corner called the apex, and continue maintaining speed.
4. At the apex slowly begin to squeeze more pressure into the throttle and begin slowly unwinding the steering wheel, aiming for the very outside of the track again.
That's it. Now set yourself up for the next corner or put your foot down for a straight ahead!
CORNERING - EARLY APEX
An early apex corner has the tightest part of the corner closer to the entry than the exit.
However, an early apex line is often taken on a mid apex corner in special situations. See the advanced section below.
Early apex corners are a little trickier, as you often have to imagine where the apex is without a specific visual reference.
1. Again, do all your braking in a straight line on the far outside of the corner. You'll brake a little more for this corner than it looks like you can get away with - this is done so that you can make a tighter radius turn than the corner appears to be.
2. Cut across towards the inside of the corner with neutral throttle.
3. As soon as you've hit that tightest part and you can see the corner opening begin to accelerate. You may still be turning in the corner, but because it opens up towards the end, it's ok to accelerate early which will just help move you to the outside edge on the exit.
4. Continue to apply pressure to the throttle and unwind the steering wheel. Be mindful of the rear end, as you'll generally have a high speed exit and the rear of the car will want to step out as you're still turning.
These are corners that generally require quite a bit of practice to really get the feel of and to know just how much speed you can carry through the corner.
There are a couple of reasons you might want to take an early apex line on a mid apex corner.
The first is if there is a very long top speed straight after the corner. In this case, taking an early apex on the preceding corner can help you spend just a little more time at top speed down the straight. Be careful with the exact line you choose, though, as it's easy to brake too much and actually give yourself a slight disadvantage when accelerating out. Make sure there are no cars close behind you, also, as you'll give them a very easy way to outbrake you into the corner and steal your line.
The second reason to early apex is if an opponent has gotten the inside position and you know will pass you going into a corner. Taking an early apex allows you to be back on the throttle quicker than them, and with a bit of luck and skillful driving, you can retake your position into the next corner. This works especially well if you know the opponent is an aggressive driver and likely to outbrake themselves. This is also a safer alternative than trying to go door to door through a corner.
CORNERING - LATE APEX
A late apex corner has the tightest part of the corner closer to the exit than the entry.
Generally in racing you want to have all of your braking done before entering the corner. This corner type is often the exception, requiring you to brake into the corner entry. This technique is called "trail-braking" and is essential to learn, to maximize performance and lower lap times.
1. As usual, begin on the far outside of the track. Brake hard to scrub off high speeds, but keep more momentum for the corner entry than you would for a mid-apex corner.
2. Soften your braking and begin to turn into the corner. If you're having problems turning (because of setup or natural car behavior) then let off the brake and go to neutral throttle for the turn-in. Be careful, though, as you'll still have a good bit of speed to take off, and if you're in a rear heavy car, such as a Porsche, it will be possible the rear end will come around on you if you simply lift off the brake.
3. Continue turning in, gradually tightening your steering to meet the apex. Continue or resume braking to take off your remaining speed. It can also be helpful to keep a light throttle pressure at this point to balance the car.
4. As soon as you've hit that tightest part and you can see the corner opening, release the brake fully and begin to accelerate. Be extra careful with the throttle, though, as you're often in a rather tight turning radius at lower speeds, which means your car's torque can play nasty tricks on you.
5. Continue to apply pressure to the throttle and unwind the steering wheel, letting the car pull itself out of the corner.
These are corners that require a lot of time in practice to really get the feel for how much speed you can carry into the corner entry. Sticking with one car for practicing will help you to understand the cornering techniques without having the additional burden of learning a new car.
CORNERING - CHICANES
Chicanes, also known as "doglegs" are simply a quick pair of alternating corners. These are generally added to circuits as a method of slowing the track down for safety.
Some chicanes are just the smallest bend in the track and only require a good initial setup to go through at high speed, others are tricky and require you to slow all the way to first gear to tip-toe through.
In all cases, you should think about what's after the chicane. Is it another tight corner or is it just an easy straight section?
1. Brake in a straight line before the chicane, on the outside. Brake a little earlier than it looks like you need to, and slow down a little more than it looks like you need to.
2. Turn in towards the entry apex, but only just enough to make the apex of the chicane's exit, and maintain speed with neutral throttle.
3. Steer into the exit and gradually accelerate. The weight shift from the steering plus the acceleration makes it easy to oversteer, so listen for the tyres to complain a little.
4. Aim for the very outside of the track after the chicane's exit and keep accelerating while unwinding the steering wheel.
5. Keep practicing until you have the optimal angle of entry and maximum exit speed. At all times be thinking of how to exit with the highest speed possible.
It's ok to clip the curbs in chicanes at most tracks, but be sure to keep at least 2 tyres on the tarmac. Generally using some curb is the fastest way through chicanes, but be careful at tracks like Enna-Pergusa where the curbs are very steep and will harshly affect the balance of your car - most drivers avoid the curbing there altogether.
The main object of any kind of racing is to win. To do that, you have to finish in front of all the other opponents. Even if you qualify on the pole and lead every lap, it can involve overtaking or passing at least slower lapped cars.
There are two main types of passing. Passing for position where the pass will be contested by the car you are trying to overtake, and passing slower lapped cars where, except for the occasional ego, the pass will be uncontested and they'll merely let you by.
Overtaking lapped cars has one main thing to remember. To keep the passing attempt in control and predictable, you, as the overtaking and faster car, must be the one to move off the racing line for the pass. Approaching a slower car you can never be sure if they'll try to be nice and pull off the racing line which makes for dangerous racing. Keep this in mind when you are the one being overtaken, too. In the beginning of your career you will be passed a lot by faster cars, so keep to the racing line and let them find their way by. The faster car should make all the decisions in a lapped traffic passing.
There are three places to pass: In the braking zones (corner entry), at the corner exit, and on the straights. Passing once in the corner is beyond our scope here as it's saved for the very advanced and usually borders on desperation. There's a high chance of it ending up bad as it involves some trust assumed by the overtaking car of the other competitor. Assumptions don't work well in racing. Clean decisive moves are the best and planning for them takes practice and patience.
Overtaking on the straights - slower cars.
This is pretty straight forward. If it's a short straight, then time your run on him in the previous corner so the exit of that corner is used for accelerating out and your momentum is already up once on the straight. Pull off the racing line smoothly and zip past to his inside. If there's enough room to pull back in front *and* continue to open a gap before the braking area, then do so. Otherwise stay to the inside for the braking zone.
Overtaking on the straights using the draft - same speed cars
The "draft" (also know as "slip-streaming") is well known in American NASCAR Racing. The cars there are all so evenly matched that most passing on the ovals they run are accomplished using this aerodynamic phenomenon.
The largest factor that limits any racecars top speed is air resistance, or drag. It can take hundreds of horse power to propel a racecar to 150mph. So any way to cheat that drag will result in faster top speeds. With drafting, the car in front punches a hole in the air that allows the car following closely behind to get sucked into. The leading car creates an area of lower resistance immediately behind them so the following car has less drag and more speed.
The closer you get to the leading car, the more the effect is felt. At some point, you'll get so close, you either need to lift off the throttle slightly to stay right on his bumper or slingshot past for the pass. Of course with the latter, the tables are now turned with you leading and him following at an advantage. This is the main reason there is so much passing in NASCAR.
For our non-oval road racing purposes there is still a big enough effect of the draft to use it for passing on all but the shortest straights. But even the longest road racing straights can get short in a hurry with a 600hp car, so it's important to plan your pass using the draft starting with the previous corner.
It's best to lay back some, otherwise you won't have the distance to gain the momentum you need once the draft starts to really take effect. If you start too far back, you won't get the draft effect to help at all. If too close, you will only match the leading cars speed the whole way. Just the right distance will give you a short launching area to gain the momentum and slingshot past at the right moment - usually just before the braking area so he doesn't have a chance to turn the tables back on you. In general starting 5-6 car lengths behind works well.
Overtaking in the braking zone - slower or lapped cars.
This usually starts on the straight by getting a run on the car you are attempting to pass. As this is a slower car, this part is easy. As you approach the braking area pull off the racing line smoothly to the inside of your opponent and get the car settled straight again. It's important not to hit the brakes until this is done, so leave enough time for it.
At this point you probably have enough speed to pull past before you reach your braking point. Never pull back in front the car you just passed. Hold your inside line and brake your usual smooth way taking away the inside line at the corner entrance. This will insure you take the corner in the safest manner.
Be aware that entering the corner this way goes against achieving your best corner entrance speed as you won't be able to use the full width of the road as you learned in the cornering section, so a reduced speed - or an adjusted line allow you to scrub off some speed - will be required to make the whole corner. The normal manner is to just hold the tighter line at a slower speed until you reach the normal apex point, and then do the rest of the corner as usual.
Overtaking in the braking zone - faster cars or for position
This starts the same as with slower cars by trying to get a run on the car in front of you. Drafting helps when they are close to your speed. As described previously, this means staying directly behind the car you're passing and letting the lower air resistance created by his car pull you close to him. Without lifting off the throttle, pull out to the inside and slingshot past at the last second.
Your momentum will most likely put you right along side him as you enter the braking zone. Keep your inside line and at minimum brake at the same time he does. This will leave you side by side as you enter the corner. Once you get to the entrance, and he's still on your outside, the corner will become yours and he will be forced to back off.
The idea is to not allow his door to get up to your nose as this will perhaps give him a chance to pull back in front at the entrance. An even better case is you brake just a split second later and go into the corner slightly ahead. No question whose corner it is now, however a lot of these times you will be entering the corner a bit fast. You'll need to allow the car to slide out a bit to scrub off speed so you can turn it into the apex. Don't use a lot of steering input until you feel the grip is there. The entrance becomes part of the slow down area in this instance instead of part of the pure cornering phase.
This can take a lot of practice to learn the feel of how to do this but is essential to learn for competitive (for position) passing. Watch out that your competitor has backed off enough to be behind you at this point. If your car slides out some from your faster than normal exit, you don't want to bang doors with him.
ABOUT PIT STOPS
In rFactor, you will find yourself needing to pit in with some regularity for a variety of reasons, from just getting a splash of fuel to finish your race or serving a stop/go penalty, to replacing damaged parts and switching drivers in endurance races.
Learning to successfully and efficiently enter the pits, get your needed work accomplished and exiting the pits is critical to the success of your rFactor career.
Entering the pits
The first thing to remember when you need to go in for a pit stop is the pit lane speed limit, which is (61 mph). You must be below the limit when you enter the pit lane or you will be given a stop/go penalty.
Pit lane speed limit starts and ends where the pit in/out lights are stationed, unless otherwise denoted by a sign or white line.
Just remember to brake early enough to get your speed down, and switch on your Pit Limiter control. You will probably want to remap this control on to your steering wheel, just be sure to make it a button you won't accidentally hit while racing.
Once you enter the pits, continue driving down pit lane and you'll see your pit crew preparing for your stop.
Exiting the pits
When your pit stop is finished, quickly glance at your mirrors or behind you to make sure no one else is close and accelerate out.
When you reach the exit make sure you join safely and merge with other cars on track, so you dont cause an accident.
As soon as you're stopped in your pit stall you will be presented with the pit work clipboard.
While work is being performed, take a moment to make sure your car is in first gear, so you can exit as quickly as possible when the work is complete!
Apex - The point during a corner at which the car comes closest to the inside edge of the track. Or the point at which you stop entering - and start exiting the corner.
Brake Bias - The ratio of pressure applied to the front and rear brakes. Ideally, when going through corners, the goal is to balance the front and rear grip. In braking, it is a matter of having the front and rear ends of the car do their appropriate share of braking in proportion to their different downloads.
Camber - The number of degrees that the top of the tyre is tipped inward (negative camber) or outward (positive camber). Negative camber makes the top of the tyres tilt inward towards the centre of the chassis, and helps give better grip through the corners. Though used less frequently, positive camber means that the wheels tilt outward, which gives some stability in a straight line but less grip when cornering. For road racing cars, only negative camber is used.
Ideal camber can be tuned using tyre temperatures as the guide. The inner tyre temperatures should be about 7-10c hotter than the outer tyre temperatures, slightly less at the rear. The amount of (negative) camber used will vary, based on the type of suspension and amount of roll resistance (springs and antiroll bars) used in the set-up. The stiffer the roll resistance, the less negative camber needed. The less efficient the suspension, the more negative camber needed.
Caster - The degree the tyre leans forward or back at the top of the wheel. Caster increases or decreases directional stability. Positive caster provides the directional stability, yet too much positive caster makes steering more difficult.
Circuit - The track/location of a race.
Contact Patch - The surface part of the tyre that is actually touching the road at any given time. The size of the contact patch constantly changes as G forces act on the car.
Damper - Adjusts in game the Bump and Rebound with both slow and fast settings.
Differential - Unit that regulates wheelspeed differential and torque split to the two rear wheels.
Duct - Vents used to adjust brake temperature. Too cool or too warm brakes are less efficient, not stopping/slowing the car as quickly.
Entry Speed - The speed of a car when entering a corner. Entering the corner at the right place at the right speed allows the car to apex and exit the corner at the highest achievable top speed.
Exit Speed - The speed of a car when exiting a corner. Higher exit speed translates into higher speed attained down the following straight.
Grid - The Starting grid, or the place on the track from which the race starts.
Grip - The stickiness of the tyres when meeting the road. Also called traction.
Line - The path a car follows around a racetrack. When cornering, the preferred line is the one that uses the most amount of track at the entrance, middle, and exit of the apex. Lines will vary by car, circuits, and environmental conditions.
Marbles - Pieces of rubber and other debris that come off of the tyres.
MoTeC - Program that tracks all user driving data.
Oversteer - The rear tyres lose grip before the front tyres when cornering. The feeling is that the car is over-responding to steering input.
Pole Position - First place on the grid at the start of the race.
Qualifying - Pre-race laps run to determine starting order for the race.
Reference Point - A point on or beside a track which a driver uses as a visual reminder to accomplish an action such as braking, apexing, accelerating, and so forth.
Trail-Braking - The act of braking while turning into a corner. Often the left foot is used for braking and the right foot is on the throttle helping balance the car through the corner.
Toe-in - This is when the front of the wheels is closer together than the rear-end of the wheels. It looks like the two front wheels want to drive towards each other.
Toe-out - This is when the front of the weels is farther apart than the rear-end of the wheels. It looks like the two front wheels want to drive away from each other.
Throttle - Accelerator.
Understeer - The front tyres lose grip before the rear tyres when cornering. The feeling is that the car isn't responding as well to steering input.
COMMON PROBLEMS AND SOLUTIONS
I keep skidding off the track!
Take it easier on the track, brake earlier than it seems like you should, and slowly build up speed. You also might enable braking assistance (F2) and anti-lock brakes (F8).
I'm stuck in a gravel trap!
You can try to drive out of it by shifting to neutral, revving the engine and then dropping it into first. If your car is not powerful enough, then use the Reset Car assistance (default E).
My car won't go faster than 60 kph!
Check to make sure you are not riding with your grandmother. If you are not, you have the pit limiter enabled. The pit limiter helps keep your car at a safe speed when in the pit lane and helps you avoid getting a stop/go penalty for pit lane speeding.
I keep spinning in corners.
Try to be softer on the throttle and brakes when cornering, and relax your steering a little. You'll find the car will sort of drive itself out of corners.
When I try to stop I just slide in a straight line.
Be softer on the brakes to avoid locking up the tyres. You'll probably need to brake a little earlier, too, to help you make the corner. This is also more likely to happen on the first lap or two of a race, when your tyres are cold. Beginners might want to enable full anti-lock brakes (F8) until they get the feel for the right braking distances.
I keep turning the wheel harder and harder, but I don't turn any tighter!
Slow down a little and don't turn the wheel so tightly. A good race driver only barely turns the wheel in corners, because they know tyres have a limited angle that will grip in corners and that they have less turning grip the faster they go. Take it easy and remember that sometimes you need to slow down to go faster.
After tricky corners I am fishtailing all over the place.
Be softer on the throttle, and apply power slowly and smoothly when exiting a corner. It will also help to wait to accelerate until you are headed in a straight line after the corner.
When I start a race, the car is hard to control, slipping and sliding, but it gets better after a few laps. Is it just me?
It is not just you. When starting a race, your tyres and brakes are cold. As you drive a lap or two, they will warm up and become stickier and grippier. Just take it easy for the first lap or so, until you feel the tyres start to respond better.
My tyres become useless after about 10 laps.
Tyres are like onions. They have layers. If you thrash your car about and really push it to the max (along with doing burnouts and skidding stops) you will quickly wear your tyres out. When this happens, they become a lot more slippery. Go get them changed in the pits, and then think about taking it easier the next time you race, or if it's just your style, then grab a harder tyre compound in the garage, the harder the tyres, the longer they will last (but the less grip they will have through their life).
I hope this information has helped you, and will improve your racing experience.
Edited by Rob Janca, 28 March 2009 - 05:14 PM.