Setups 101: A Beginner's Guide to Suspension - How to tune the best suspension!

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After tyres, one of our main concerns should always be the quality of the suspension setup.

This differs massively from track to track, and depends a lot on the car, weather conditions and much more!

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So, whilst this may be on of the most daunting parts of a setup, let's get started now.

The elements

A suspension setup consists of many different elements which all work together. Far removed from a tyre setup, where the only variable are pressure and compound.

Setups 101 iracing suspension
DAUNTING: Tuning a suspension setup can seem an impossible task!

For suspension, there is ride height, suspension stiffness, camber, caster, toe and roll-bars. The trick is to get each of them to compliment each other, suited to the track you're driving on.

For a street circuit with an often uneven surface and tight corners, the trends will be towards a somewhat high ride height and very stiff suspension with lots of camber. (This isn't a universal rule, just an indication of how circuits can affect your setup!)

So, let's make a start on how you can adjust your setup to best suit the circuit you're on, and what you're driving!

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Ride Height (Spring perch offset)

This is the easiest to explain, as it is what it says on the tin. This is the height of your vehicle off the ground.

Audi R8
RIDE HEIGHT: The height of the vehicle can massively impact driving!

A ride height setting is used in different ways in different titles. In F1 2020, a higher ride height is used for uneven tracks or ones where the driver needs to attack the kerbs.

However, in iRacing, and other more in-depth sims, ride height (or spring perch offset) is set differently. Instead, drivers use it to determine the grip on the front and rear of their cars.

Generally, lower ride height at the front will tend to create more oversteer, and lower ride height at the back will create more understeer.

Suspension Stiffness

This generally attributed to the springs, although some games may just refer to it as stiffness.

F1 2020 TC TN
STIFFNESS: The firmness of the ride is always a compromise!
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A general rule once again is too soft results in an unstable car, whereas too stiff makes the car a tad unruly.

This is once again a case of finding the best compromise between a stable car and sufficient grip throughout a lap.

Camber

Camber refers to the angle of tilt on the wheel. If you add negative camber, the top of the tyre will tilt towards the centre of the car.

GT Sport Real TN
CAMBER: This is an important element for building a stable cornering car!

For the front, adding negative camber should help with grip in the corners, however, you may lose straight-line speed, as less rubber is touching the tarmac.

On the rear, adding negative camber will once again aid with grip in the corners. However, another problem may arise in snap over steer and increased tyre wear.

Caster

Caster is a rather advanced suspension element. It refers to the angle of the steering angle in relation to the vertical axis.

AC R8 LMS
CASTER: This is an advanced setup, and often doesn't need much changing!

When caster is increased, the car will make more of an effort to straighten, and the driver will feel more through the wheel.

Generally, this is the use of caster. If you want to feel lots through the wheel, gradually increase caster to get that feeling. However, be careful as it can also cause instability.

Toe

As well as something on your feet, toe refers to where the tyres are pointing. Toe-in makes the wheel point towards each other more, and towards the centre of the car.

ACC Cars
TRACK DEPENDENT: Many of these elements need to be changed for each track!
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For the front, toe is used to affect the car on turn-in and in a straight line. Toe-in and out can adversely affect straightline speed if too high. However, toe-out is more commonly used to increase the car's turn-in speed, and toe-out is used to aid stability in braking zones.

On the rear, toe is used to affect the feel of the car throughout a corner. Toe-in is far more common, and helps with stability and grip.

Anti-Roll Bars

Our final suspension component is anti-roll bars. These are relatively self-explanatory, but do require some fine tuning.

Abu Dhabi TN
EASE OF ACCESS: Some setups, like in F1 2020, are very easy to modify!

On the front, stiffer anti-roll bars will tend to push the car towards understeering more. This lets the driver be far more aggressive with the steering. Softer improves stability in braking zones and makes the car handle bumps/uneven road surfaces better.

For the rear, mid-corner is the main part of the track that we care about. As you put throttle down, a stiff anti-roll bar shifts towards less understeer, whereas a soft rear anti-roll bar will tend to shift towards oversteer.