For Grand Prix 2 by MicroProse

The fine art of racecar setup
How many people recall watching Formula One back in the early 80s, those halcyon days of wide tyres, turbo's and power levels almost unimaginable now? One of my enduring memories of those days is not of Piquet, Pironi or Villeneuve, but of Niki Lauda. Although lacking the glamour and excitement of the younger drivers, Niki's talents came not from passion but from knowledge and experience. Friday and Saturday qualifying would unfold as a dogfight between all of the young guys, but come race day a different picture would emerge. Niki Lauda, starting from 12th on the grid and having been off the pace and out of my thoughts all weekend, would almost mesmerically work his way, apparently effortlessly, past the entire field to win. Watching this display (for there's no other word for it), you somehow had the feeling that he was in possesion of information the others didn't have.

There's no doubt that Lauda's driving skills were from the absolute top drawer of motorsport, but so was the driving of many other drivers on the grid alongside him. Whilst driving style and experience play a large part in a driver's overall performance, a further component of that speed is simply confidence. Confidence of this type comes at least in part from having a very good setup. Not only will a good setup be smoother (=faster) around the circuit, but the very predictability of the car when using that setup will further inspire confidence to force the car toward the edge of its capability, and to drive it there for lap after lap. Naturally this can only be good for your lap times.

So why am I telling you all this stuff about the real world of Formula One? Well, whatever else GP2 may have achieved, one thing which is irrefutable is that it has taken sim-racing giant strides closer to the real world as far as setup is concerned. In writing this article Sim Racing News has gratefully accepted the assistance and expertise of Doug Arnao, not only one of the fastest guys on CompuServe in ICR2, GP2, NASCAR and on Hawaii, but also someone whose day job involves developing, setting up and testing race cars (do I hear "lucky sod" from anyone?!). Doug's experience in this field not only helps his job, but it also helps greatly in GP2 since GP2's setup affects the car in exactly the way it affects a real car. So next time you're watching F1 on TV, see if you can get Schumacher's setup captured on video!!

When compared to F1GP, in GP2 no longer is car "balance" determined simply by the ratio of front:rear wing compared to driving style, but springs, fast bump and rebound, slow bump and rebound, anti-roll bars, ride height and packers all play a part. Not only that, but they all affect each other! Ahhhhhhh!!! Everything you do is a compromise, balancing the gains from one part against the losses from another. Softening the rear may mean more grip and traction, but it also means less steering response and more understeer - which is best in each case?

That is the purpose of this article, and we'll try to explain at least one method of determining a setup from scratch from first arriving at a circuit until turning those hotlaps. There are many ways to create a setup, and this is not the bible of all that is true - it is simply one way that works, and a starting point from which to make your own setups and discuss with people to develop more and better adjustments. So, your plane has landed, the car has been unpacked and loaded onto the transporter, and you're driving through the gates of the circuit - what now?

Use your head 
The first thing you need to do is to use your head. That doesn't only mean get the mechanics unpacking and cleaning everything while you sit around, it also means
think your way around the track. If you can see the track is obviously a particular type, it saves a lot of time spent testing different settings. Wing settings are the
most basic adjusrment of all, as they determine straight line speed and to some extent the cornering speeds. Looking at Monza and at Hockenheim, there is no
doubt that they are extremely low downforce circuits. There is no point in testing a variety of wing settings, it simply isn't worth it. On the contrary, TI-Aida (Pacific) and Monaco are where you need high downforce, and running with a rear wing of "1" would be time better spent in the pub. The tricky ones are Silverstone, Estoril, even Suzuka, where low downforce will lose you as much through the turns as it gains on the straights, and conversely high downforce will lose on the straight and gain in the turns. Only testing can split the second or even tenth of a second to determine which is best, and which is best for you. Opinions vary on exactly how to setup a car, some people advocate setting the wings first out of all the adjustments, and this is recommended by none other than "The Professor", Alain Prost. I personally favour adjusting the car mechanically first of all, tuning it for the slow corners on the track where the aerodynamics aren't playing much of a role, then working on aerodynamics, adjusting the fast corners, and finally retuning the mechanical aspects based upon the changes to the aerodynamics. This was an approach from Senna's excellent book "Principles of Race Driving", and one which has worked very well for me. How you proceed is up to you of course. What is sure is that there is no "right" way, only what is most efficient and effective for you. 

Your first time... 
As with many "first times", it is likely to be an experience to remember, so try and take it easy or it will all be over too soon . Put the wing settings onto your car which you feel will work best (from "using your head"), and set your dampers as below until you can begin "fine-tuning" - many thanks to Doug Arnao for these initial settings. These will give a "quick" feel to the chassis but without inducing car-wrecking oversteer on entry.
Slow Fast
------------------- Front Bump --- 10 --- 00
Front Rebound 15 02
Rear Bump 07 00
Rear Rebound 12 02
Now, load up 20 laps of fuel and head out onto the track. Take it easy here, learning the circuit, learning the braking points, where you can push and where you can't. DO NOT try to push hard and constantly spin off, that way will only mean this phase will take longer and you will most likely get frustrated. You are not going to do a hotlap in your first laps, so forget the times you've seen on the WWW, and even if you're several seconds off that pace you shouldn't be concerned. The time will come, but only if you work at it correctly. I personally try to slowly build up speed and then to concentrate on two corners only during the lap, learning what I can do at them. Once I have those right, choose another two. Eventually the whole lap will be reasonably quick and you can start chipping away the tenths.

On these laps you should be first of all learning the track, and once you are reasonably proficient with the tracks cornering and braking points, start gently pushing the car toward the limits, and very carefully watching what it does. Especially by gentle application or reduction of the throttle in mid-corner, you can begin to feel what the car wants to do. Below we will describe each element of the setup, so mentally (or on paper) record those problems, and search for solutions in the adjustments below. Pay particular attention to :-

------------------- * Car response when entering a corner (tend to spin, go where you want, or push wide ?)
* Car response during a corner ?
* Car response exiting a corner ?
* Car response under braking, want to spin or doesn't want to turn ?
* Is the plank constantly dragging on the ground ?
* Is there excessive wheelspin exiting a corner ?
* Is sixth gear reached, and does it redline (final rev light on) for long periods?
During these laps, we also encounter one of the perennial problems of setting up a racecar, "cause and effect". When you encounter some difficulty, it is extremely important to think about if the car is causing the problem, or if maybe it is your driving that is causing the problem. If you brake early for a corner (through not knowing the track) and turn-in too early, it's natural that the car will understeer because you will get back on the power too soon and push the front out toward the exit kerb. In this case you may go into the garage and dial in more oversteer, but that would be the WRONG thing to do, and would take your setup down a wrong path. Similarly braking too late can lead you to turn-in sharply with a high steering angle, and getting on the power again will cause you to oversteer, slide or spin. The car may well have a problem with oversteer, but you can't decide based upon this. When you encounter a problem lap-after-lap, think carefully about whether you are causing it by imprecise driving, or if it really is a symptom of something wrong with the car.

Okay, let's return to the garage and look in detail at the setup.

In the garage - the basics
The wings 
The wings are the most fundamental part of the car, and are used firstly to set the top speed and maximum cornering speed (rear wing), and secondly to adjust the "balance" of the car, oversteer or understeer (front wing). It is however possible to setup the wings for oversteer, but use the dampers and springs to turn it into understeer. However, not only will this increase tyre wear (as the tyres must work harder to keep the rear end in place against the push of the aerodynamics), but it will make for a very unpredictable car, one which will not retain a balance all the way from low speed to high speed. A setup is something you gradually hone over time, and once you take your setup down that road and find problems, it's very difficult to backtrack and recover it.

The orthodox method of wing adjustments is to firstly select your rear wing setting, and then set your front wing to balance the car as you like it. I personally prefer a front wing set at least three or four notches higher than the rear (and often more), but others prefer the front set LOWER than the rear to induce understeer (although this is not to be recommended. If understeer is your aim then find a neutral balance with the wings, springs and roll bars, and dial-in a little understeer with the dampers). Choose a setting, go out and test and then make adjustments to the front wing until it's balanced. Don't worry that your rear wing may not be correct, you will try a variety of settings until you find the best one! Another method of of setting the wing is to choose the front wing setting which will get you around the corners, and then to progressively lower the rear wing until you can just retain control of the car. This method is primarily of benefit in hotlapping, where many drivers slide the car through a corner on severe understeer (thus the rear doesn't spin as easily as it would with a normal entry style). A hotlap setup is just what it says, designed to run one lap at the maximum possible speed, and generally they are not very stable and therefore not so useful for race driving (and you wondered why those setups fron the internet felt difficult to drive?!). In a future article we will cover hotlap setups, but for now we will concentrate on creating a stable, drivable car, and teaching you HOW the changes work, then you can begin experimenting for yourself.

Finding the right gear 
Apparently straightforward, but actually gearing is a very fine art. Many people simply set the gears between first and sixth in equal spaces, around 5-8 steps from gear to gear. However, as ever, THINK what your engine is doing. In first gear the revs rise incredibly quickly, whereas in fifth and sixth the revs rise slowly. By using a large gap between first and second, and a small gap between fifth and sixth, you can keep the engine more tightly in the "power band" in the higher gears, which don't have so much capability for acceleration. Not only that, but you will have more time between gear changes in the lower gears which means the engine is powering the wheels for a greater time (assuming the greater time available leads to better timed and smoother gearchanges), and you can more accurately remain in the "power band", the area where your engine produces the most power. Whenever you change gear your speed will drop by 3-4km/h due to the loss of drive to the wheels, and it's important that your gearshift drops you back in the power band so that you may regain the impetus as soon as possible. This is most apparent at Hockenheim and Monza, where a gap between first and second of TEN, and a gap between fifth and sixth of only FOUR would not be unusual. As ever, test and see what works best, as this is dependent upon your style.

Sixth gear should be set, as described, to redline just a second or so before your braking point at the fastest part of the circuit, and your first gear should be a compromise between good acceleration from the slowest corner, the amount of wheelspin from the lowest corner, and the need to get away from the grid at the start. Lower means better acceleration (especially off the grid), but means "longer" gears throughout the rest of the gearbox, more chance of wheelspin, and more chance of spinning the car. Higher means slower away from the grid and the slowest corner, but improved acceleration through the other gears, and less wheelspin. Wheelspin can also be controlled by softening the rear shocks, and/or low & high speed dampers. As ever, compromise, test and decide. Another approach proposed by Achim Trensz (top hotlapper, author of several of our track guides and all round nice guy!) is to set first gear quite high, in the range of 37-39. Whereas this would murder the clutch in a real car, in the sim it's perfectly possible and means it is easier to avoid unwanted wheelspin when driving, also allowing higher gears to be grouped more closely together. Again this is somewhat of a hotlapping approach since first gear need only get you away from the slowest corner - in a race first gear will also have to get you off the grid, and while such a high first gear will make it easy to avoid wheelspin, it will probably not give you the acceleration necessary to make a good start. Try it and see what works for you.

For the gears in between, there are two approaches. In the old days of F1 they were chosen partly to give the best acceleration, but partly so that you never needed to change gear in mid-corner. Not only was it risky taking one hand from the wheel, but the action of double-declutching and disconnecting the wheels from the engine would lose power and grip to the rear wheels. As you can imagine this upsets the car balance more than a little - very risky. Nowadays with semi-automatic gearboxes this is not an issue, but if you are using a T1 or similar controller where you need to remove your hands from the wheel, consider adjusting your gears so that you don't need to shift in mid-corner. The theory is that if you enter a corner in third and need to shift to fourth mid way through, try lowering your third and fourth gear. Then you will be already IN fourth gear when reaching the corner, and it will be "long" enough that you will only need to change to fifth after you have already exited that corner, and hopefully on the next straight. You could also make third gear "longer" (higher ratio) and hope that you could remain in third all the way through. If this isn't a problem for you, choose the ratios that give the best acceleration, wider gaps for the low gears, becoming closer as you go higher through the gearbox.

Balancing the brakes 
The next setup "fundamental" is regarding the brake balance. In a Formula One car at top speed, the downforce is literally crushing, so much so that at top speed you can press the brake pedal completely to the floor knowing it is impossible to lock the wheels. However, this phenomenal grip comes primarily from aerodynamic downforce and this in turn comes from speed. As your speed reduces under braking, so the car is pressed on the track less and less heavily, and consequently grip reduces rapidly. At a certain point the downforce will become so low that the braking force will exceed the grip of the tyres, and at this point your wheels will lockup, leading to loss of control, added tyre wear etc. To avoid this you need to do exactly as the real Formula One guys have to do - punch the brakes hard at first, and then easing off as downforce decreases. The closer you can keep your wheels to almost locking, the more effective your braking will be. A perfect example is Michael Schumacher - next time you are watching an F1 race, watch how often you will see just the suspicion of a puff of smoke from his inside front wheel when entering a corner. That is because he is allllllllmost locking up, but not quite (this is different from the Jean Alesi "it looks like my wheels are on fire" routine - that IS a lockup!). This demonstrates once more (if any demonstration were needed!) Schumacher's supreme driving talent. If you can glance in your mirrors as you come off the brakes and see just the briefest whiff ot tyre smoke, you're doing pretty well!

This is all well and good, but what does it have to do with brake balance? Well, generally the front and back of your car will have vastly different levels of grip since there will be different levels of wing front and rear, the wings are of different sizes, size of the tyres are different, wear level of the tyres are different etc etc. This generally means that your wheels will lock at different times. Not only that, but under braking the weight of the car will be pitched violently forward, so that the front wheels are supporting much more of the car's weight than the rear. This makes the rear of the car "light", consequently less downforce and more likely for the wheels to lock up. What YOU need to achieve is the front and rear wheels locking simultaneously. Why you may ask? Well, the reason are, from least to most important...

* Tyre wear. Consistently locking up one set of tyres before the other will give increased wear levels on those tyres, and will affect cornering 
balance later in the race (you will have less grip on the worn set than on the "fresher" set).
* Braking distance. If one set is locking, they are unable to accept the braking forces applied to them. This means too much on one set, and 
not enough on the other. A more even balance will spread the braking force evenly, and shorten your braking distance.
* Loss of control. The two other reasons are a nuisance, this one is a REAL problem. As long as you're travelling in a straight line braking is fairly easy, with poor balance simply meaning a longer braking distance. However, let's try a little experiment. Set your brake balance as far back as it will go (rear bias) and then try braking for Suzuka's Casino Chicane - this is very heavy braking but not in a straight line, the braking is done on a mild curve and it is vital that you can steer. As soon as you hit the brakes, all of the braking force goes to the rear wheels, whereas the weight of the car goes forward - the rear of the car is light, and with little wing the rear wheels instantly lock. Since you're on a corner and the rear has no grip to turn it, it will travel straight on, and AT THE ORIGINAL SPEED. The front HASN'T locked up, and is slowing down and turning away from the rear. The result? The rear overtakes the front and you spin straight off the track (oversteer). The opposite is if the front wheels lock up. In this case you can no longer steer, and although the car may be slowing due to the effect of the rear tyres, most of the braking force is going to the locked front tyres and is therefore wasted. The front pulls the car straight off the circuit, since the front tyres have no grip to turn you into the corner (understeer).
You can feel this happening when testing, and in the practice sessions you must find the ideal balance for the race. Remember that not only does the TOTAL downforce change when you go from high-speed to low-speed, the RATIO of the downforce will change as you slowdown too. At high speed the rear will generally have more downforce (and therefore grip better and brake more easily), but it could be that at low speed you have more mechanical grip at the front. Due to this, your brake balance setting may work well at high speed but lock up the rears at low speed. In this case you must be guided generally by the clock and by your own driving preference. It is usually A BAD THING to have the rear wheels lock, and A GOOD THING to have the most efficient braking from high speed (rather than low speed), since this will help you complete overtaking opportunities. With these is mind make your adjustments, preferably using the section of track where you have to brake the heaviest (Hockenheim's OstKurve chicane, or Aida's Hairpin Corner). If the car wants to spin under braking, move the brake balance toward the front, and if it refuses to turn under braking try moving the balance to the rear. Remember this can also happen if you've locked ALL FOUR wheels. Review the telemetry traces and check the "wheelspin" graphs. If you see a sharp downward spike that denotes wheel locking. If front is first, brake balance should go slightly to the rear (remember, don't lock the rears first!), and if the rear is first brake balance should go to the front. if ALL FOUR are locked you are not easing off the brakes correctly. You can use full brakes for a fraction only before easing off, so practice to improve this area of driving.

In the garage - Advanced
Now things are getting a little worrying. We've clicked on the "Advanced" button, chosen Level 2, andlo and behold, a veritable feast of options awaits us. Within this screen you have the potential to create an ill-handling monster of a car or the sweetest, smoothest drive imaginable. This is the nerve centre of a setup.

These are one of the more difficult items to set, and depend very much upon driving style and personal preference. For most adjustable items such as wings, ride height etc there are "right" settings, and whatever settings you choose will probably be fairly close to what most other people are running (provided they understand what they're doing with the setup!!). The springs on the other hand offer different advantages and disadvantages depending upon how they are set, and depending upon how you like your car to feel, you will prefer a different spring rate to someone else. The things to understand are :-
--------------- Softer springs Harder springs
Higher level of grip Quicker, more responsive handling
Less tyre wear  Possible to run lower car (more grip)
Higher ride height required Lower grip from the tyres
Less responsive handling Greater tyre wear
Now let's take an example - Monaco. Around the tight streets of Monaco you need a car which reacts very quickly to steering inputs and will go exactly where you point it - that means hard springs. On the other hand, you need LOTS of grip, especially at low speed where the wings won't help so much - that means SOFT springs!! Which is faster for you? The tendency in GP2 is to set the front reasonably stiff (1,200lbs or more) and the back reasonably soft (800lbs or so). However, at some circuits an all stiff setup works best. If you are going to use the kerbs a lot you may need springs which are stiffer, especially if the kerbs are not "designed" to be used (some kerbs in GP2 have little or no influence on the car (Jerez T2), others have minimal effect (Ostkurve inner chicane) and yet others launch you into the air (you know which ones!)). For the kerbs designed to be used you don't need to worry about spring settings, but if you want to clatter through Casino Chicane as fast as possible, you'll need to stiffen up the car.

When considering the springs, remember also that the springs work in conjunction with almost every other item on the car, and changing the springs affects ride height (hence also packers), anti-roll bars, brake balance, damper settings - almost every aspect of car setup. For example, softening the front springs will cause the car to "dive" more under braking (the front springs compress, thus lowering the nose), and therefore ride height may need to be increased at the front. Also the weight grip will increase at the front (since the softer springs will increase grip, especially under braking) so the brake balance may need adjusted. Adjusting the springs can affect many other items on your setup, so think your way carefully through any adjustments you want to make.

Anti-Roll Bars 
Anti-roll bars (ARBs) are like "sideways springs". They transfer weight from one side of the car to the other, absorbing some of this and adjusting the speed of the weight transfer depending upon how stiffly they are set. In common with springs, softer ARBs means less responsive handling, less tyre wear and increased grip at that end of the car, and stiffer ARBs will give the opposite, more precise handling, more tyre wear and less grip. Since the ARBs do not have such an effect on other areas of the car setup as the springs, they are the main way to control the MECHANICAL balance of the car. If you find the car has a tendency to under or oversteer around a long corner, play firstly with the ARBs to try to cure it. In most race cars the ARBs can be adjusted from within the cockpit (as can the brake balance) which is ideal for adjusting the car balance during a race as the fuel load decreases, but GP2 doesn't offer this facility unfortunately.

To set your anti-roll bars, you need to pick a long constant speed corner at the circuit you are working on, and use that corner to make adjustments. The reason for choosing such a corner is that the dampers also have an influence on corner balance, but they only work while you are steering (during steering transients or weight transfer). Similarly the springs will have their main effects while accelerating or braking. By working on a shorter corner or while accelerating or braking, the dampers and springs will be dominant, and they will mask the effects of the ARBs to some extent. A corner like Magny-Cour's "Estoril" or part of the Beckets complex would be ideal. If you are always accelerating through the only suitable corner, simply maintain a constant throttle rather than accelerating, just to test the spring settings.

Less understeer (more oversteer) soften front or stiffen rear
Less oversteer (more understeer) soften rear or stiffen front
more grip (less responsiveness) soften front and rear
more responsiveness (less grip) stiffen front and/or rear

Ride height & Packers
The easiest thing to set here is the ride height, although this is closely linked with packers and spring settings. In addition to the mechanical grip created by the tires and the aerodynamic grip of the wings, a Formula One car generates additional grip through the use of low pressure areas beneath the car, and the creative use of exhaust gases (warmer gas = lower pressure = pressed to the road from the high pressure cold air above). Generally "the lower the better" in terms of grip, but you must be careful of plank wear since the wooden plank which is below every car will ground if the ride height is too low. The ride height plays a part in overall car balance too, since lowering the car increases the downforce at that end of the car, and thus puts more load onto those wheels. Lowering front ride height will slightly increase front-end grip, creating oversteer in a balanced car or curing understeer, and the opposite if you decrease rear ride height. Using the method described below, adjust the car to the lowest possible ride height (maximising undercar downforce) and then fine-tune by increasing either the front or the rear just a little to maintain a neutral balance.

First of all bear in mind that the overall aerodynamics of the car are designed to work with the rear of the car around 25mm higher than the front, so that's a target to aim for in your adjustments. From this starting point progressively lower the car, all the while maintaining around a 25mm differential. For a hotlap, packers are generally less useful - as long as the plank lasts for one hotlap it doesn't matter if it wears away. This may mean that you need to run your outlap at low speed on longer tracks (Spa, Suzuka, Hockenheim), but that's a small price to pay since using packers to save the plank may compromise your ultimate speed setup. However, on other tracks packers can help, especially the longer tracks where the plank could wear away within only one lap (!), or where you are running a VERY low car.

Now, let's bring the packers into play. These are most useful at circuits with very high top speeds, and are indispensable at places like Hockenheim. The ride height and packers need to be set AFTER the springs, since how low you can run the car will depend upon how much your springs are going to compress under the downforce of high speed. Your aim is "To run the car as LOW as possible (maximising undercar downforce), ensure the car is NEVER riding on the packers through any corner (at least not a corner where you require grip from that tyre), and have the settings so that the plank only occasionally "flashes" when reaching the highest speed. To do this requires a balance between packers and ride height.

First of all, set the ride height. Lower the ride height to 44mm rear, and 22mm front. Now increase by 1mm each time, and continue to raise until the plank DOESN'T flash yellow when going through the fastest corner on the track (make sure to test using the fuel load you are going to use in your race!). Having set the ride height, now you can add packers. Since you have set the plank so that it doesn't touch during the fastest corner, that means all the corners will be run on the springs. This is important as if the car is sitting on the packers when entering a corner it is the same as having all springs set to fully stiff - try it and see how difficult it is! You don't want that to happen. With the setting you got, the plank should only touch the ground on straights where you are going faster than you were through the fastest corner (by "corner" I mean something like Eau Rouge or Suzuka's "130R", not the long gentle curves of Hockenheim). The front and rear are set separately - if the rear is softly sprung (900 or less), set the packers to about 3mm less than the ride height. If the rear springs are quite stiff (more than 900), try setting the packers to 2 or even 1 less than the ride height. Now test again. If you have handling problems, you know instantly that the car is sitting on the packers through the corner - that will give you problems. Otherwise, look at the performance data graphs, and study the suspension travel section along with the track map. At the point you had the problem, see which springs were riding on the bump rubbers (no suspension travel left - the line will be at the ZERO level), and then lower the packers for that spring by 1mm. Test again and repeat the adjustment until you have no problems.

You now have a car with neutral balance achieved by the wings, springs and roll bars, that brakes in a controlled and efficient manner, and that doesn't scrape the ground and wear the plank. More importantly, it goes around corners in a balanced, predictable manner. There is our final problem, the human factor. Your car may go around a constant corner smoothly, but corners are rarely constant, they are normally taken under braking or acceleration, or while angling the steering by different amounts. Even more than that, YOU are not constant. The way YOU drive a circuit is different from EVERYONE else. You brake in a unique fashion, turn-in at a certain point, get back on the power differently. The speed you turn the wheel and how roughly or gently you treat the car, all these things make you unique. The dampers allow you to take the car and adjust it not only for you, but adjust it for your style of entering a corner, leaving a corner, switching direction in a chicane, and much more. Not using the dampers correctly means you are mising out on a vital aspect of setup. Frighteningly complicated for many, actually the dampers are not too difficult to understand. What they are is enormously powerful in getting the car to respond exactly as you want it. I say the dampers aren't too difficult, well, actually they are VERY difficult - until explained by an expert that is. I am no expert, but the aforementioned Doug Arnao is, and with our grateful thanks to Doug, we now hand over to him to explain all about dampers. What they are, what they do, and how to adjust them.

So you want to know about GP2's dampers, eh? Well hows about I just tell you what affects they have on a real race car and some basics on what they do and how they change the dynamics of a modern day formula car. As long as Geoff has modelled everything as real as possible, then they should work as advertised. Well, guess what?....they do :-)

Some "Absorbing" info:
* The rebound should *always* be higher than the bump (1.5 - 3 times)
* Low speed and fast speed refer to the speed of the damper shaft relative to the damper housing, NOT to car speed.
At all times cornering balance is affected by the weight distribution on the four tires. Springs, sway bars and wings give constant resistance or affect weight distribution through the ENTIRE length of a turn. Dampers however, and their amount of resistance, can affect the balance at different _parts_ of a turn. This occurs because at different parts (or what are called "phases") of a corner, different dampers and their travel are dominant at that point. This makes for a excellent way to adjust the corner entry and exit independent of each other, or to take a corner that is unbalanced from entry to exit, to one that is balanced (ie: understeer on the way in - oversteer on the way out).
Fast damping is what the tires see and feel ie: reactions over bumps or kerbs. It's job is to keep the rubber on the ground over the various surface undulations. Travelling over a bump at speed causes a relatively large and "fast" movement of the damper shaft, and hence it's name. If the front of your car is "overdamped" in the fast bump direction, then you will experience UNDERSTEER on the bumpy sections of turns. If the rear is overdamped you will experience OVERSTEER.

For fast speed adjustments, pick a bumpy turn at the particular track you're working on. Start with bump at 0 and rebound at 2 and work your way up until the front UNDERSTEERS over the bumps, then back off 1 or 2 clicks. Then do the same for the rear until it OVERSTEERS over bumps, again back off 1 or 2 clicks. Always keep the fast rebound higher than the bump - 1.5 to 3 times so. The stiffer the spring the stiffer the rebound setting. It is the fast rebound's job to resist spring pressure and unsprung weight (wheel, tire, hubs, brakes etc) when the suspension droops. Usually a setting of 2 times the fast bump works well in GP2. Make sure the car likes "usable" kerbs, too. This may require softer settings than done in your bumpy turn test - everything is a compromise.

Slow damping is what the driver feels ie: turn-in throttle-out, and mid-corner transitions (chicanes). It controls the dynamic weight transfer and overall motion of the main chassis relative to the track surface as the car is turned, slowed, and accelerated. these motions cause "slow" and small movements of the damper shaft, again the name. The slow rebound usually ends up being higher than the bump, but can be at times 1:1.
Most fiddling will be done with the slow speed settings. First settle on a spring and roll bar setting using a constant radius neutral throttle corner. Next do the "fast" bump adjustments as described previously, then fine tune with slow speed adjustments. First We'll need to understand the different cornering "phases" before we can make a decision as to what slow speed adjustments to make.
ENTRY type 1 : Increasing braking + increasing steering
This phase is the first part of a fast decreasing radius turn. This phase will not occur at all if you get all your braking done *before* you turn-in. Since weight is being transferred both forward and outboard, the outside front damper moves in bump and the inside rear damper moves in rebound. these are the dominant two dampers in this phase of turn-in. The other two have minimal effects during this phase.
ENTRY type 2 : Decreasing braking + increasing steering
This is the turn-in phase of a slow corner. This phase may or may not occur depending on the type of turn or driving technique. Weight is being transferred outboard and to the rear, so the outboard rear damper moves in bump and the inside front damper moves in rebound. The other two dampers are considered stationary.
ENTRY type 3 : Increasing steering at constant throttle
This phase can be a chicane turn-in (GP2 has a lot of these!) or a turn entry taken at *full* throttle. Weight is being transferred outboard only, so *both* outside dampers are moving in bump and *both* inside dampers are moving in rebound.
MID-CORNER TRANSITION : Decreasing steering back to zero at constant throttle
This is really the opposite of a type 3 entry. It's what happens in the middle of a chicane, as you flick the steering back away from the current cornering direction. As soon as the lateral acceleration passes back through zero, the turn reverts to a type 3 entry again.
EXIT : Decreasing steering + increasing throttle (or decreasing braking)
This is the apex_to_exit phase. Weight is being transferred inboard and to the rear. The outside front damper moves in rebound and the inside rear moves in bump. The others are considered stationary.
Here's a chart to help understand low speed damper adjustments:
Entry Type1 F bump +
R rebound -
F bump -
R rebound +
Entry Type2 F rebound +
R bump -
F rebound -
R bump +
Entry Type3 F bump +
F rebound +
R bump -
R rebound -
F bump -
F rebound -
R bump +
R rebound +
+ = increase adj.
- = decrease adj.
F = front
R = rear
F bump -
F rebound -
R bump +
R rebound +
F bump +
F bump +
R bump -
R rebound -
Exit F rebound -
R bump +
F rebound +
R bump -
These are the basics of how they work on real race cars and they seem to work correctly in GP2. There are more complicated things they do in real life, like control the aerodynamic platform and downforce consistency by reducing excessive pitching and yawing. I doubt they've gone that far in the game, but if they have it's something else to look at.

--Doug Arnao (Vehicle Craft Inc.)

That's basically it for the setup, and as you can see it is not so difficult to understand. It is certainly frustrating at times as it all gels together or falls apart depending upon balance. Two setups can look utterly different and yet be equally quick depending upon how well each component complements or fights the other components and the driving style. It also shows you why you cannot simply download a setup from the 'net and expect it to be quick. With effort you cn learn to drive it, but ultimately you will be compromising your own driving style and will be unable to express yourself with it (that's a flowery way of saying "you'll be slower"!!). In closing this article we'll leave you with a few thoughts to work through on your own....
* There's a box in "Advanced setup level 2" called "Symmetrical Editing", and it doesn't have to be used. Remember that circuits are clockwise or anti-clockwise in nature and your car will rarely require the same forces on each side. Almost every setup I've seen on the 'net is symmetrical, and this misses the opportunity for much more tuning. Remember that for dampers usually only TWO corners are in use at any one time, and adjusting symmetrically means you will adjust all four corners. This may correct the problem you are working on but introduce another problem elsewhere on the circuit. Tune each corner separately if you can...
* F7, SH and OL affect the setup. While I personally disapprove of driving aids, many people use them and it's important to realise that they will make a
difference to the setup. Especially using "Steering Help" will allow you to run with a bigger differential between front and rear wing. Opposite lock help will
allow a similar thing, the car will still breakaway and try to spin with high wing differential, but the program will help you catch the resulting spin. F7 will affect
spring and gearing settings. 
Return to the test phase. Very important this, after any change make sure you go back onto the track and see how it has improved/changed the car.
Generally make one change at a time and then go and try it out. Then go and tune some more.
* Sometimes you've tuned your chassis so much it sounds like an angelic choir, you're driving the wheels off the car and yet you can't make up any time. In
these situations you can either switch the computer off and come back later, or you can make a radical change. Maybe you've reached your limit with that
setup, so change the basics. If you're running high downforce, change to medium or low, if the car is setup very soft then change to stiff springs and see if
you can run any faster with a more responsive car. Make the change, balance the car again and see how you do. 
Well, that's it from this Sim Racing News guide, and we hope you'll find it useful. There's an awful lot of work and testing gone into this, so we'd like to extend our thanks again to Doug Arnao who helped out so much. We think this is not only comprehensive but also accurate, but we're open to suggestions and criticism. If anyone has any suggestions for improvements or simply needs setup help, drop us a line and we'll try to help.

Copyright © 1996 Sim Racing News / Written by John Wallace, all rights reserved