THE INSIDER’S GUIDE
There is nothing quite like the rush of fully committing to a corner with pedal jammed to the floor, confident that the car will stick and flow through the bend with ease. That grip comes from the power of aerodynamics, and several cars on the roster-list in Project CARS 2 come with bucket-loads of downforce.
Taming and extracting the speed that become possible with high-downforce cars, though, brings its own unique challenges: these cars often come with a lot of horsepower, so your every action and reaction in the cockpit comes with heightened sensitivity, requiring both good composure and precision.
This week’s episode of the Insider’s Guide sees Yorkie065 take a closer look at these high-downforce monsters as he sets about explaining how to drive them on the edge to extract every last ounce of speed.
- With high-downforce cars, your braking is crucial; you’ll brake incredibly late in these cars, aided by all that downforce and usually very powerful brakes, and what you’re aiming for is to maximise this braking power by absolutely stand on the brake pedal initially before easing off as you prepare for the turn-in.
- As the speed drops through the braking phase, you want to ease off the brake pedal, because as speed decreases, so does downforce, and you want to prevent the brakes from locking-up.
- Ease off more or come off the brakes completely once at the turning-in point to the corner and guide the car into the apex.
As you go through the braking phase and your speed drops, the amount of air flowing over the aerodynamic parts of the car will also drop, which in turn reduces grip. If you were to maintain heavy braking application throughout the entirety of the braking phase, the likelihood of you locking a wheel under braking increases as the grip ‘falls’ off. Easing off the brake as you get closer to the turn-in point reduces this chance of locking.
- Balance the car through the apex and exit of the corner.
- Similar to a road car, apply more throttle as you start to unwind the steering wheel and get the car straightened out as soon as you can.
- Get full throttle once you’re confident the driven tyres have enough grip to avoid wheelspin.
High downforce cars tend to come with high horsepower and/or powerful turbos or hybrid systems. Applying the throttle too heavily will likely lead to wheel spin, reducing your acceleration out of slow corners, and costing you lap time as well as causing significant tyre degradation.
Low Speed Cornering
- Apply the braking and throttle techniques as described above.
- Turn-in smoothly to not overpower the rear of the car. Once in the corner, you can use moderate amounts of steering angle in the slow speed corners without worrying about upsetting the car—it’s just that initial steering input that can cause the car to lose its balance and grip.
- Try to use some of the aerodynamic performance of the car to help the car turn-in. High-downforce cars generally come with stiff spring rates and very good turn-in response—use that to your advantage.
- Using the curbs at low speed is the fastest way around most of the time; however, avoid the larger curbs on the inside because these can both unsettle and even damage the car, as high-downforce cars tend to come with low ride-heights and stiff springs, meaning impacts with those large curbs are going to have a bigger impact on stability—not to mention comfort going through the corners.
High Speed Cornering
- Any braking or throttle application that needs to be done needs to be smooth and relatively light. Any braking should also be before turning in. Throttle application should be nicely balanced with smooth applications on and off as you flow through the high-speed bend. Being heavy-footed can easily disturb the airflow over the aerodynamic parts of the car, making them a lot less effective which will result in a loss of grip.
- Turn in very smoothly to not overpower the rear of the car and maintain shallow steering angles with sweeping lines. Putting in too much steering angle can easily overpower the rear tyres leading to oversteer, which you definitely don’t want at high speed!
- Lean on and trust the aerodynamics of the car to flow through the corner. The more speed you carry through a high-speed sweeper, the more aerodynamic grip you’ll have available. Obviously, this is relative to the corner radius: if you start running wide through the turn, gently ease off the throttle to reduce your speed.
- Try to avoid curbs and large bumps where possible at high-speed to maintain smooth and undisturbed airflow over and under the car. The more stable the aerodynamic platform is, the more effective your aero performance is going to be and the more aero grip you’ll have available. Hitting the curbs aggressively in high-speed corners is a sure-fire way to upset the airflow over the car, often leading to loss in aero performance and a rapid loss in grip, resulting in either oversteer or understeer.
The smoother you are, the faster you are with these high-downforce cars. You’ll often hear people describe this as “overdriving” the car. The fastest way to get the most performance from these cars is to be a sort of “passenger”—that is, let the car do the work and simply guide it. Don’t throw it around looking for more time because this will just upset the balance and the aero effect and slow you down. Avoid hitting large bumps and curbs, too, because a stable platform is what these cars desire most of all—this is why they are so low and sprung so stiffly. Trusting in the aerodynamics and utilising them correctly is where you will extract the lap time and be most effective in high downforce cars.
So now that you’ve read how to drive them, buckle in and observe Yorkie’s demonstration of effective high downforce driving technique.