Tyres can cause headaches in F1 2021. Here are a few ways for you to get on top of your tyre troubles!
Image credit: Codemasters / EA
Tyres are perhaps the single most important part of an F1 car’s performance. Every driver has a choice of three sets of tyres to use each race, the softs, the mediums, and the hards. While everyone using the same three sets of Pirelli tyres levels the playing field somewhat, there are still ways to use your tyres to gain an advantage on the rest of the field. Here are some of those tyre-whispering methods for you to use in F1 2021.
Pay Attention to Your Setup
No matter how good you are, a bad setup will always hold you back. One reason for this is because certain incorrect settings can lead to greater levels of tyre wear or uncontrollable tyre temperatures. All aspects of an F1 2021 setup affect the tyres in one way or another, but the two most significant areas are the suspension geometry and the tyre pressures.
In the suspension geometry menu there are settings for both camber and toe. In both of these cases, running angles closer to zero will reduce tyre wear and temperature gain at the cost of some outright peak performance. At most circuits, it’s worth running the minimum angles or at least close to them so as to prevent tyre wear from getting out of hand. Be careful, as the menu isn’t very intuitive. For the camber settings, the minimum is all the way on the right, while the reverse is true for the toe.
As for your tyre pressures, they are all about heat. Low tyre pressures will keep your tyres at lower temperature levels, making them more manageable over a long stint. In F1 2020, it was more or less essential to run the minimum tyre pressures at every track, but F1 2021 gives you a little more room to work with. If you run practice sessions, use them to look at your tyre temperatures over a long stint. If they are regularly exceeding 100 degree celsius, then you should consider lowering your tyre pressures.
Adapt Your Driving Style
Once you’ve got your setup sorted, the next thing you’ll need to focus on is your driving style itself. This can take time to adapt to, so it’s important to be patient here. Slighter, more gradual movements put less strain on your tyres than jerky, sudden inputs. Therefore you’ll want to focus on a couple of different specific things when driving.
For your front tyres, it’s a good idea to limit your steering angle when you can. Turning hard into a long, fast corner will put a lot more temperature into your outside front tyre than a steadier line would. Sometimes, you’ll need to sacrifice a little more speed in the corner to get the desired effect, but this can still be beneficial in the long run. However, be careful that you aren’t sacrificing too much speed, finding the right balance here is tricky and takes time. It’s also key to make sure that you don’t regularly lock your front tyres heading in to corners, as this will wear them out. If you find yourself locking up frequently, try shifting your brake bias rearward.
Then you have your rear tyres. The best way to look after these is to make sure you gradually apply the throttle on the exit of low speed corners. If you feel your controller or wheel rumble as you’re laying down the power, chances are you’re stressing your rear tyres more than you need to. One workaround to avoid this wheelspin is short-shifting – changing gears earlier than you usually would on the exit of a corner – this doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of speed and it’s a significant boon to your tyre life.
Maximising Your Strategy
The final major way in which you can gain an edge on your tyres against the opposition is through superior strategy calls. First off, if you’re driving at 50% race distance or below, chances are a one-stop race will be faster than a two stop. This is because the number of laps which two-stoppers have to use their fresher tyres isn’t high enough to offset the pit stop time loss. There are a few tracks where you may not be able to pull off a one-stop, but for the most part it shouldn’t be too hard.
Going for undercuts on your opposition can be tempting, and in many cases it’s the right call, but if it’s going to leave you pushing puncture territory by the end of the race, it probably isn’t worth it. Be sure to fully plan out your strategy ahead of time and work out what your earliest feasible pit-stop lap is. On top of this, try out each tyre in practice sessions to get a feel for your pace on them. If you can get an undercut by switching to hards instead of mediums, it’s important for you to know whether the hards are too slow for it to matter or not.
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