For Grand Prix 2 by MicroProse

Themis Kafetzopoulosí Setup Guide.
Introduction
A few words from the author
This is a setup guide/manual for the best F1 simulator, Grand Prix 2 by Microprose. After reading it you will have fully comprehend the concept of general and basic setup elements and values, as well as some of the more detailed and specialized features. Reader's convenience was first priority when the guide was written, as the original manual of GP2 was very complicated for people whose mother language is different than English, but even for English people, as many elements are described with too many technical terms.

I hope that this guide will really help GP2 fans, as the setup is a mystery to many people. In addition, setting your car up by yourself and not by finding ready setups made by others, gives a very nice feeling and makes you a lot more confident. But the biggest advantage is that you can set your car up according to your driving style and demands. How many times haven't you borrowed a setup which was crap? But, for the one who gave it to you, could be ideal. This guide is very analytical, so if you already know how to make a setup you can pass the first parts and go straight to advanced level, although a second opinion wouldn't be bad.

Something else you should know is that if you're determined to make really good setups, then you can't ignore performance analysis. Last thing is that I want to thank all grandprix2.com.listbot's members who have shown interest about this. I wouldn't have done it without you boosting me guys.

Themis "Opterios" Kafetzopoulos: opterios@mycosmos.gr.


Things to know for the setups
- You should already know a track well, before setting up your car for it.
- The descriptions are made for qualifying setups. Difference between qualifying and race setups are mentioned at the end of the guide.
- Terms like downforce, grip, springs, under/oversteer, aerodynamic drag etc. should be familiar to you in your mother language. If you don't know their 
meaning, check them in a dictionary. Please, try to learn each unknown word, as it could be vital for some described concepts. 
- The author has taken in mind that you are aware of how performance analysis works. 

Car Setup Standard Menu
The car setup standard menu is the most important part of a car's setup. If this part of the setup is correctly adjusted, then the setup will most likely be good. 
Good setup is characterized the one which will allow the driver to achieve pole position in Ace difficulty level. 

Rear wing
It's probably the most important element in a car's setup. The first question you would ask someone for his setup is the rear wing value.

IMPORTANT: You should first adjust the rear wing, as it is the point where it is recommended you should start setting up your car. 
You can't, for example, first adjust the gear ratios and then the rear wing.

The rear wing produces downforce, which pushes the car down, so that it can have better grip. The more the downforce the better the grip. 
Unfortunately, this has a big disadvantage: the reduce of top speed and acceleration, which is caused by the aerodynamic drag that the rear wing produces. 
This is the difficulty in selecting the right value for the rear wing. Choose more downforce (+) for tracks with many corners and short straights and less downforce (-) for fast tracks with long straights.
It may sounds simple, but it's a bit tricky. For example, at tracks like Interlagos or Spa, there are many corners, but the rear wing is adjusted for low downforce so that the cars can take advantage the few but long straights of these circuits. 
So how will you decide the wing's value? It is recommended at tracks where there are more than one long straights, to go for low downforce. 
You earn much more time by having 15 kph (9.3 mph) more speed at the end of a straight than being faster in some corners about 7-8 kph (4-5 mph). 
This is also because of the better acceleration provided by less downforce. The acceleration is something we often forget, but it is there actually where the difference is made. By selecting lower wing, you won't only have better top speed, but also better acceleration. 
This is the key for Spa, for example, where although there are many corners, they are separated by short straights where the car with low rear wing values earns in acceleration. This is very important and should always be taken in mind.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee which value for the rear wing is the best. You must find the best value which suits your driving style by experimenting 
(don't forget to adjust the gear ratios each time you change the rear wing's value). 
It's just good to know approximately the value of the wing. This is what I try to give you here, a starting point. 
For example, after reading this you won't start setting your car up at Hungary with a 4 value, nor at Monza with 12!!!


Front wing
The front wing is a lot easier to adjust. That is because, unlike with reality, the front wing in GP2 does NOT produce aerodynamic drag. 
So, the only factor taken in mind when adjusting it is the kind of car balance you prefer. 
This is again up to you. If you need an understeering car, then lower the wing (-). If you want an oversteering car increase the wing's value. 
Be aware: by putting the same value in front and rear wing doesn't always mean that the car will be neutral.
Its adjustment is always depended by the rear wing's value (this is explained more analytically below). 
Since the front wing doesn't produce aerodynamic drag, it is recommended that you never lower its value under 6 or 7 points. 
It doesn't matter either if you have 1 at the rear wing. You can always have the front above 6. Otherwise, the car will be very understeering. 
Just to give you a clue, my personal settings for Monza are: rear wing 1, front wing 9. 
Now, if the rear wing's value is above 9 or 10, then, and ONLY THEN, a good advice is to start with the front wing 1-3 points down, 
again depending on the kind of balance you want (over/understeer, or neutral). 
For example, if you have the rear wing at 18, then a good value for people who prefer an understeering car for the front wing is 16 or even 15. 

Brake balance
It's usually easy to adjust the brake balance. For fast tracks, where you have to slow down from very high speeds, you should adjust the balance towards 
the front. That way, the car will be braking more strongly, but will be a bit more understeering while braking, but this is of low importance, since I don't 
believe there is anyone in GP2 who brakes and steers at the same time. 
You should however keep the balance below 36-64 (rear-front), because the car will be blocking too easily the front wheels. 
Do the contrary for slow, twisty tracks, but keep the balance above 45-55 (rear-front), because the braking will start being inefficient. 

Gear ratios
The gear ratios are totally depended by the rear wing's value. That's why you should first adjust the rear wing, as mentioned before. 
For those who are totally unfamiliar to the gear ratios, here is the general idea. The longer the gear (+) the greater the top speed, but the slower the acceleration. The shorter the gear (-) the lower the top speed, but the better the acceleration. As you understand, the bigger the rear wing's value is, the shorter the gears must be and the opposite: the lower the rear wings value is, the longer the gears must be.
The only headache here is to find the correct value for the first and the sixth gear. When this is done, then you just equally adjust the rest gears between the first and sixth gear. The first gear should be about 29-31 for the very fast tracks (Monza, Hockenheim etc) and 27-28 for the slower tracks (Monaco, Hungary etc).
Try to be in those values for the first gear, as a lower value will cause a lot of wheelspin and a higher value will make the car slow to accelerate.
So, all we have to do now is to find the 6th gear's value. You should now do the following. Find the longest straight of the track you want to set up the car for, and make sure that a little before the braking point, the rev meter has reached its maximum value. If it doesn't, then you should lower the 6th gear. If it does a lot before the braking point, you should try a longer gear.
This is not much difficult to find. After two or three tests, you will have found the right value. Now, adjust the rest of the gears with equal difference between first and sixth gear. Actually, my personal opinion is that the second and third gear should be a bit shorter (-) than normal (by one point), so that the car can accelerate fast when it's moving at low speeds, but this is for medium speed tracks mostly. Anyway, don't try this until you have some experience with setting up your car..

It's time to set your car up!
Now, you have all the basic knowledge that is required to set you car up. Don't get disappointed if your first attempts aren't that good. 
It will be probably because you haven't yet adjusted the advanced level. Normally, if you are a good driver, you'll make a satisfying setup for the beginning. 
The setups you can make now are capable of giving you easily the pole position in Semi-Pro level, given that you normally drive at higher difficulty levels. 

Car Setup Advanced Menu
Advanced level is vital in order for the driver to be fast at higher difficulty levels. 
If you are determined to be the champion at Pro, or Ace, then you should pay attention to the advanced setup menu. 
Firstly you must know that in F1, on the contrary with normal cars, the softer the suspension the better the grip. 
In addition, a soft suspension wears (=makes useless) the tyres slower than a stiffer one. 
On the other hand, a stiff suspension provides better handling and allows us to lower the car's height. 
Here we come to the first element of an F1 car's suspension, the ride height. 

Ride Height
The ride height is simply the height of the car's floor from the ground. Simple to understand. But what does it really effect? 
As said before, the higher the rear wing the more the downforce, but the less the top speed. 
Ride height is a very important element, which is not payed as much attention as it should. 
By lowering the car, you get extra downforce without any aerodynamic drag (which causes lower top speed). This is very important. 
You must always make sure you have the car as low as you can. 
What you should pay attention at, is the difference between front and rear values. 
The rear part of the car is always more high. A good difference between the values (depending on the track) is 15-25 points. 
For example, you can have 15mm front and 40mm rear. 
You must adjust the difference in values in such a way which won't cause oversteer, or understeer. You must experiment with this. 
The lower the front or the higher the rear causes oversteer, and the higher the front and the lower the rear causes understeer. 

Packers
So, if a low car is so advantageable, why not lower it as much as possible? 
If the car is too low, then its floor will be touching the ground (when driving, you will see a line at the damage indicator on the right of your cockpit which 
shows when the car is touching the ground). This happens at top speeds, because as the car gains speed, it lowers. 
In order to avoid this, you can fit the car with packers. 
The packers are a set of bump stops which limit the downward movement of the car. 
More simply, they reduce the travel value of the car's suspension. 
This prevents the floor of touching the ground, but your suspension will be a bit less "efficient" on bumpy surfaces. 
For this reason, most people are afraid of adding a lot of packers, but I believe that the benefit of the lowered car outweights the disadvantage of the low 
travel of the suspension. I recommend you to use packers as much as required fearlessly! 
Now, how will you know when the packers are enough? 
When the car won't be touching the floor anymore (in qualifying you won't mind if the car is touching the floor at the end of some straights for a while. 
On the contrary, this is the ideal occasion). 
And how will you know that you haven't fitted more packers than necessary? 
You will keep reducing packers until you see that the car is touching the ground only at very high speeds (if you're racing at a very hight percentage of 
race distance, then you should make sure that the car doesn't touch the ground at all). 
Using performance analysis will help you determine the appropriate amount of packers required. 

Springs
The springs are something we should take seriously in mind, when experimenting with the ride height. 
Packers are not the only thing which will allow us to lower the car. 
Stiffening the springs will allow lower ride heights, plus the handling will be improved. 
The disadvantage of stiff springs is the rapid tyre wear and the reduced grip. You should soften the springs at bumpy tracks. 
A softer spring allows to pass over the kerbs and bumps of the track without wheelspin. 
But, a soft spring will demande a higher ride height, which reduces the downforce. 
Softer springs though, will improve the grip of the car a bit. 
Some people stiffen the springs in order to remove packers, so that the car's suspension will have a bigger travel value. 
Unless the track's surface is very smooth, I believe that this is very wrong. 
The first priority by which springs are adjusted is the track's bumpiness and then the grip. 
Besides, by stiffening the springs you do limit the travel value of the car, only now the car will suffer when passing over bumps. 
For once again: don't be afraid to use packers, BUT be careful not to use more than enough. 

Dampers
Now, here is the tricky part. You should know what a damper is from your experience with normal cars. 
Only that here, the dampers are adjusted by four ways. 
Combine the list's elements below and you will get a picture of what each of the four adjustements does: 
 
Fast dampers: Their effect is simular to the springs. The softer they are the more they allow passing over bumps. 
Slow dampers:  They allow adjustment to the car's handling and grip.
Bump dampers:  Define the car's behaviour over bumpy surfaces. 
Rebound dampers: They control the car's balance during entrance to and exit from a corner.
Rebound dampers are the dominant element of the car's dampers. 
Rebound damper forces are typically 2/3 times the strength of bump dampers of the same setting. 
This means that rebound dampers should be by 2/3 times stiffer than bump dumpers on the same setup, 
but this is not completely necessary.

Anti-roll Bars
The anti-roll bars are only effective when the car has zero roll angle (=when the car is in the middle of a corner). 
As you see, this means that the anti-roll bars are more effective in long lasting corners. Soften them to improve grip at long corners.
If the track has not that kind of corners (e.g. Monaco except for the long left corner before the casino) you should stiffen the bars to improve handling. 
Generally you should have in mind that the stiffer the suspension is at the front, or the softer at the rear, the more understeering the car is. 
So goes the other way round: the softer the suspension is at the front, or the stiffer at the rear, the more oversteering the car is. 

Setup expert!
You are now ready to make a complete setup. 
After a while, and a lot of experimenting, you will be able to make ideal setups for your driving style. 
You will know when a setup is good for you, when it's driveable, and takes you in good places on the grid. 

I want for once again to emphasize the importance of making your own setups.
Each one of us has his own driving style, so you know how you want your car to behave better than anyone else. 
This is very important for the standard setup menu, where the setup of wings is vital for the driving characteristics of the car. 

I believe that without setting up the suspension, there will always be a lack of speed and driveability. 
But, although the suspension settings are a bit complicated, they have the advantage that they are the same, 
most of the times, for every type of wing settings for a particularly track. 
For example, let's suppose that in Suzuka I'm using 1 rear wing value and someone else is using 5. 
That means that our standard setup setting would be a lot different, but our suspension settings could be exactly the same. 


Differences between qualifying and race setups
As said in the beginning of the guide, the instructions in the guide are for qualifying setups. 
Well, now we are going to see what changes we must make at a good qualifying setup to make it a good race setup. 

If you followed the instructions about the ride height (lowering the car as much as possible), then your car must be instantly touching the ground 
at the end of long, high speed straights. 
This is the most common difference between qualifying and race setups: the ride height. 
If you are racing long-distance races (over 50%), then you must adjust the ride height, so that it won't be touching the ground at all, 
or at least, it will only be touching the ground when braking. 
You can do that be either increasing the ride height (usually 1-2mm are enough, but it depends), or by adding some extra packers. 

One more thing that you could change for a race setup is the wing's value. 
For example, in Brazil I qualify with 1 rear wing, but I race with 5. 
This is because I want my car to be more stable and having more grip at the race. It would be difficult to handle my car for 72 laps 
with the rear wing at 1, since it would be too slippery (especially at Interlagos) and I could easily get out of the track. 
In qualifying, there is no problem reducing the rear wing, compared with the race, because the fuel load is much less. 
By changing the rear wing, you will of course have to adjust the gear ratios too. 
In my opinion, no further changes are needed when adjusting a setup for a race. All those changes of course, are not always necessary. 
There are some tracks where you won't have to change anything. 
For those of you who race short-distance races, you can use the same setup for qualifying and for race. 


Conclusion
Thank you for reading Themis Kafetzopoulos' Setup Guide. 
There is no tutorial that can fully teach you how to make perfect setups, since there are hundreds of different driving styles and ways to play GP2. 
I just hope I showed you some first steps, upon which you will develop as a master of setups. 

Please, for any comments, good or bad, suggestions, ideas and questions, mail me
at: opterios@mycosmos.gr. 

Thanks, 

Themis 
 

Copyright © 1999 Themis Kafetzopoulos.