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Oversteer or/and Understeer advanced - Car Setup

Welcome to Lesson 14 of SpeedScienceHQ- In the last lesson we understood what Understeer and Oversteer are and why they are caused. Now that you are familiar with the concepts we all accelerate into the advanced aspect where we learn how to manipulate the car setup to cater to oversteer or/and understeer. Car setup depends majorly on the drivers preference. (I prefer understeer) However every driver should have a deep scientific understanding of the cars behavior and how they can manipulate it whether it is through driving or car setup.  

How to correct Understeer & minimize time lost

To best explain how to correct understeer we need to understand how the car is reacting at various points in a corner, and so we should split the corner into three parts:

  1. Turn-in

  2. Apex

  3. Towards corner exit


Understeer at turn in ->

To enter a corner as quickly as possible, it’s important to transition between braking and turning smoothly.

As I spoke about in our tires and grip article, there is only a certain amount of grip a tyre car give and taking it from using 100% of available traction for braking to 100% of available grip for turning is tricky.

As I always say, being fast is about being smooth. If you try and turn the car in with a hard and fast movement, you’ll shock the tyres and cause them to break traction too early – reducing the speed you can take into the corner.

You can also disrupt turn-in by trying to turn while braking heavily. If the tyre is beginning to under-rotate, even locking, then trying to turn at this point will just cause the tyre to slide. It’s better to reduce brake pressure slightly before you turn-in, allowing some grip to be available to turn the car.

It’s also possible to brake too lightly going into a corner. Depending on your car’s setup you’ll likely want to turn in with a less brake pressure, leaving some weight and grip over the front tyres to aid turn-in.

Understeer at the Apex ->

By the time a driver is at the apex, he should be back on a balanced throttle – only a tiny percentage, but nevertheless back on the gas.

In longer corners, this balanced throttle phase will last a longer distance and so a driver will have more time to manipulate the balance of the car. If you have understeer during this mid-corner phase, you should play with the throttle to help the car to turn.

Think about the car understeering at the apex – the car is front grip limited and so we need to transfer some grip forwards 

If you’re already on the throttle, try lifting it a little. This will cause the front suspension to compress and more weight and grip to move forwards, hopefully removing the unwanted understeer.

If the car is still understeering apex, try leaving the brakes on a little long as you enter the corner, or being more patient with your throttle application on the following lap. The whole point of this is to leave weight over the front of the car for a little longer, thereby reducing the likeliness of understeer.


Understeer on corner exit -> 

By ‘on corner exit’ I’m referring to the phases where the driver will be just passed the apex and beginning to increase throttle position as they head out of the corner.

This is the most common form of understeer as the car is squatting at the rear, due to the acceleration, and moving a lot of grip to the rear of the car and away from the front.

Other than forcing the car to oversteer at the apex, it’s pretty much impossible to change your driving technique to remove understeer from apex to exit. The only thing you can do if you feel it starting is to be patient with the throttle.

The last thing you want is to make the car understeer too wide as you exit and have to lift off the throttle as you exit – it’s much better to wait a little longer, get the car turned more, and get on the throttle in one smooth movement.

How to Change Racecar setup to aid understeer:

























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How to correct Oversteer & minimize time lost

Ensuring Oversteer is Predictable:

In simple terms, the smoother your inputs are into the car, the more progressive the slide will be. Imagine trying to push someone over. Push them hard and fast and they’ll fall to the floor with a bang. But, load up pressure on them gently and they may be able to stay standing, or at least fall with some grace.

So, ensure you ‘bleed’ off the brakes (as explained in braking of lesson 4), turn-in smoothly and apply the throttle like there’s an egg under your foot and when the oversteer happens it will be much more predictable and easier to control.

Using Oversteer to your Advantage 

Having a well-balanced car at all points through a corner is extremely challenging. Even for professional drivers, myself included, it’s tough to be using 100% of the grip available at all times – although I’m referring to a small amount of over or under driving.

If you watched our weight transfer tutorial you’ll understand how, by shifting weight around, we can change the grip balance of our track cars.

The diagram below shows a long, slow-speed hairpin – think Druids at Brands Hatch. This is what’s happening inside the cockpit:

  1. The driver brakes into and enters the corner – the car is well balanced

  2. Throttle is reapplied, smoothly

  3. The rear of the car squats, and there’s a hint of understeer

  4. Because the car is in the corner for a long time, the understeer is potentially limiting the exit speed

  5. As the driver begins to see the exit point, they lift the accelerator somewhat. This causes the weight and grip to transfer to the front of the car

  6. The car oversteers – ‘rotates’ – slightly, turning itself towards the exit and allows the driver to get to full throttle sooner





Changing setup for oversteer:

I must warn drivers to be careful when making setup changes to their car, especially if you’re not too experienced. It is incredibly easy to ruin a car’s base setup and end up being completely lost – which certainly isn’t what you want!

The diagram below, explains various types of oversteer and how to potentially cure them.

The End ->

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