MOZA Racing Release Upgraded R16 & R21 Wheel Bases
MOZA Racing has announced that they are releasing updated versions of their most powerful wheel bases. …
iRacing » iRacing Setup Guide: The Ultimate Guide To Setups
In this guide I'll take a detailed look at iRacing setups. I'll run through every part of your car setup that you can change, and what affects these can have on your car in iRacing.
With iRacing being such a highly competitive online racing sim, finding every advantage you can over those that you are sharing a track and competing with is important. Finding that advantage can be the difference between competing for the win or not.
iRacing car setups are one of the best ways to increase your advantage or close the distance to other drivers around you. A good car setup can help your car become easier to drive and faster each lap.
In this guide, I’ll look at iRacing setups in detail, running through every part of a car setup in iRacing. This will help you if you decide to tinker with your own car setup before a big race. I’ll also look at where to find setups created by others if tinkering with your own setup isn’t your thing.
So let’s start by talking about what iRacing car setups are and what they do. Almost every car in iRacing, regardless of which discipline you are racing in, will give you some car setup areas that you can adjust.
Adjusting your car setup will change mechanical parts, and sometimes software-based components, which in turn will change how your car behaves on track. As you make changes to your car setup, you will be able to feel your car driving differently, with some setup options having a greater effect than others.
The goal when adjusting a setup or creating your own iRacing setup are to improve how your car handles on track. While some setups focus on increasing your car’s outright pace, making it as fast as it can be across a short distance, other setups will focus more on increasing your car’s speed over a longer race distance.
Depending on the race you are entering, you may want to achieve different things when finding a setup or adjusting your current car setup.
For longer-distance races or endurance races, you will want to focus much more on creating a consistent car to drive, that is both fast and kind on its tyres. This will allow you to stay out on track longer before having to pit, saving valuable time.
For shorter sprint races, tyre wear may not be such a big issue, so you can focus more on unlocking your car’s ultimate speed potential.
The other factor you will want to consider when creating a setup for a particular car in iRacing, is which track you will be racing at. No two tracks are the same, and each track will benefit from different changes being made to your car setup.
When racing at high-speed tracks such as Monza or Le Mans, you will want to focus much more on reducing aerodynamic drag, and increasing your car’s top speed. At tighter circuits such as the Hungaroring or Interlagos, there is a much greater emphasis on aerodynamics and high minimum corner speeds.
Setting your car up to handle these different tracks will require a different approach each time. But the benefit of having high speed and low speed setups along with track-specific setups will result in better lap times across each individual track.
The base setups in iRacing are perfectly serviceable, but having an optimised car setup for each track will certainly benefit your lap time and improve your car’s driveability.
With a car that is more stable, you can drive more consistently. This will improve your long run pace, and can give you the confidence to push your car more, unlocking additional lap time.
The options available to you for adjusting your car setups will depend on which car you are driving. There are well over 100 cars in iRacing, so choosing the right one can be difficult. But when you’ve made a decision on whether you’re racing a GT3 car, an IndyCar or something else, you can jump into the car setup panel to see what setup options you have to work with.
No matter which car you jump into, the first setup option will always be your tyre setup. It is here that you can make setup adjustments to your tyre pressures, which will have a drastic effect on your entire setup, and change the working window of your car.
You can only adjust your starting tyre pressures and your tyre compound depending on which car you are driving. It is worth noting that the starting tyre pressures are set with your car stationary in the garage. The pressures will change and increase as you spend time on track which is dictated by the “last hot pressure” reading. The tyre setup is incredibly important and will have a huge effect on your overall grip.
Your tyre pressures control just how hot or cold your tyres get during a race stint in iRacing. But your tyre setup is actually one of the last parts of your car setup that you should set.
It is always good to get an initial reading on your tyre pressures and make sweeping adjustments before changing any other part of your car setup. However, other setup changes will affect your tyre pressures. For this reason, we always fine-tune our tyre pressures as our last step when creating a car setup.
Adjusting your tyre pressures will effect your tyre temperatures, and in turn effect your grip levels. Below is a quick overview of how tyre temperatures affect your grip on track.
Another part of tyre setup in iRacing is that the lower the pressures the more of the tyre is in contact with the track surface. Having a larger contact patch with the track will increase the amount of grip potential you have, helping limit wheelspin and increase your overall grip around a lap.
However, this will also make your car feel a little more sluggish than if you increase your tyre pressures. You can also go too far when reducing your tyre pressures. If you lower them too much your car will start to lose stability as the tyres become too soft. They will also struggle to heat up causing a lack of grip.
When racing with certain cars in certain series, you can have the option to change your tyre compound. If you have ever watched motorsport on TV such as Formula 1 or Indycar, you’ll have heard the commentators discussing tyre strategy and the different compounds.
Each tyre compound has a different level of grip and different wear rates. In general, the following rules apply;
The other option available in the first tab of the iRacing setup screen is your aerodynamic setup. This part of your car setup will adjust how your car behaves throughout a lap, both through the corners and down each straight.
Your aerodynamic setup is one of the strongest tools you have at your disposal in iRacing, and it can make a huge difference to your overall lap time.
There are a few options you can change to your aerodynamic setup. These include the front splitter and rear wing if your car has one. You can also adjust your ride height. All of these will have sweeping effects on your entire car setup.
Here are a few general rules to keep in mind when adjusting your aero setup in iRacing;
Adjusting your front wing or splitter will change how much front downforce is generated. The higher the angle, the more downforce is generated which will increase grip at the front of your car.
This will help limit understeer on corner entry and can make your car feel more responsive. If you increase the front downforce without increasing the rear wing angle, you may encounter additional oversteer as there will be an aerodynamic imbalance.
Adjusting the rear wing angle will change how much rear downforce your car generates. Increasing this will increase the grip at the rear of your car. This can help to prevent too much oversteer.
Much like adjusting the front wing, if you adjust this too high without adjusting the front as well, your car will be likely to feel unbalanced and could start understeering.
You can adjust the ride height settings to adjust how close to the track surface your car will be. By closing the gap between the bottom of your car and track, you can reduce the airflow under the car, creating a suction effect which will increase overall downforce.
You have to thoroughly test your ride height setup to ensure your car doesn’t make contact with the track surface, especially when the suspension is compressing and rebounding after driving over a bump or kerb. If your car does make contact with the track, it can cause instability and loss of control.
The goal with your ride height setup is to run your car as close to the track as you can without bottoming out (the car hitting the track surface).
You can adjust a wide variety of settings for both your front and rear brakes in iRacing. The most important is the brake pressure bias.
The brake bias affects how much braking force gets sent to the front brakes and how much to the rear. The goal when setting your brake bias to find the perfect balance that will provide the most efficient braking force.
Generally, as you brake from high speed, your car’s weight balance gets shifted forward and your car will dip at the front. With all of the weight at the front of the car, moving your brake bias forward will generally provide better braking performance. This is indicated by the number next to the brake bias setting. 53% for example would result in 53% of the braking force being sent to the front brakes.
However, moving it too far forwards can result in your front brakes locking under the pressure. This will elongate your braking zone, causing you to potentially miss the apex and lose lap time.
You can also adjust your ABS setting which will change how much of an effect the ABS has while braking. The anti-lock braking system is designed to prevent your brakes from locking up. ABS activates when it detects that the brakes are about to lock, and this is normally caused by braking too hard at lower speeds.
Without the ABS, if you brake hard from 150mph, for example, your brakes might not lock immediately. As your car slows, you would need to reduce the brake pressure that you have applied to avoid the brakes from locking. If you keep 100% brake pressure applied as the car slows, there will be a point where the brakes lock.
Your suspension setup is where a lot of your work will go into. Depending on which car you’re driving, you’ll be able to adjust a large number of settings across all four corners of your car. These will effect exactly how your car handles over bumps and through corners, having a big impact on your overall lap time and tyre wear rate.
Your anti-roll bars are available to be adjusted in a wide variety of cars. The ARBs primary purpose is to reduce or increase the stiffness of your car as it leans to one side. The stiffer your ARB, the less your car will lean during a corner.
You can adjust the ARB stiffness across both front and rear axles. This allows you to create an offset in stiffness to help reduce effects such as understeer or oversteer.
The benefit of having stiff a ARB setup is that it will keep your car more horizontal to the road, in turn disturbing the airflow less allowing for maximum downforce. However, too stiff and your car will be prone to become unstable over slight bumps, making it tricky to control.
The damping setup options allow you to control how fast your dampers both compress under load and how fast they rebound to their original state. These setup options work alongside the spring rate to adjust how your car behaves over bumps and kerbs.
The damping setup is broken down into multiple setup options allowing you fine control over how each damper feels. Below is an explanation of what LS and HS mean as well as what defines comp damping and rbd damping.
Changing any of the damping setup options in iRacing can drastically change how your car reacts to changes in the track surface including bumps and kerbs. Increasing the speed at which your suspension compresses and returns to a normal state can have big effects on your overall stability and traction under acceleration.
Decreasing the compression and rebound can change how your car’s weight shifts during braking and acceleration. It will slow the reaction speed of your suspension and wheel load over bumps, which can also cause instability and reduce overall grip often causing understeer.
Adjusting the damping is a really fine art and should be done in conjunction with the spring rate below.
While the damping changes how fast your shock absorbers react to bumps, the spring rate changes your overall spring stiffness. This will have a big impact on how your car behaves during cornering, how much it rolls, much like your ARB setup, and how the weight balance is shifted during cornering, braking and acceleration.
The toe setup in iRacing affects how much the front of your wheels point in or out when looking from above. This means that the front of your front wheels will often be pointing ever so slightly away from your car. This works to increase the overall responsiveness of your car.
Toe-in at the rear is often flipped, with your rear wheels pointing either straight or slightly in towards your car, but to a much lesser degree. This will promote stability.
Much like all parts of a car setup in iRacing, there is a limitation on toe-in. If you increase how far your wheels are pointing away from your car (increasing toe-out), your car will become more responsive but will start to feel unstable. Increasing the toe angle in or out also increases drag which will reduce your car’s speed in a straight line.
While your toe changes how much the front of your wheels point away from your car, the camber effects how much your wheels lean in at the top when viewed from the front.
Increasing your camber will reduce how much of the tyre is in contact with the track surface when driving straight. But it will increase the amount of the tyre’s contact patch is in touching the track during corners as your car leans to either side.
The final suspension setup option we’re going to look at in iRacing is the caster. This defines the angle at which the suspension is set when looking from the side. Increasing the caster will increase the angle of the suspension, while decreasing it will straighten the suspension mounting angle.
Generally, you will always want positive caster, which promotes both stability and performance when cornering. Setting the angle too high though can introduce understeer and negatively affect your handling.
The in-car dials part of the iRacing setup screen changes elements that can be controlled from your steering wheel during a race. These are normally always software changes such as adjusting the traction control or ABS. I have touched on some of these already, specifically the brake bias and ABS in the braking setup above, so I won’t look at them again.
The traction control setting will change how influential the traction control is when preventing wheel spin. Traction control will kick in when it detects that your driven wheels are about to break traction and start spinning.
Higher TC settings will allow the traction control to kick in sooner to prevent wheel spin. While this is helpful to avoid losing control of your car, it will also prevent you from unlocking your car’s full potential. There are many scenarios where you will want to induce a little bit of wheel spin to help your car rotate, or maximise your corner exit.
You should look to set this to as low as you can without feeling that the car is breaking traction too often or to a dangerous level. You can adjust this setting mid-race allowing you to increase it as your tyres wear, or reduce it if you feel more comfortable with the car.
The engine map will change your engine’s overall performance. Different engine maps are set to allow the engine to perform at different levels under certain circumstances. These different circumstances can include fuel saving, extra engine performance or a combination of both of these elements.
The throttle shape setting adjusts the overall input curve of your throttle pedal. This will change how much throttle is applied at different stages of you pressing on the throttle pedal.
A true 1:1 input curve will map your exact throttle pedal movement to the amount of throttle applied. For example, when you depress the throttle pedal 25%, you throttle input will be 25%.
Adjusting the throttle shape setting will change the input curve. This can mean that less throttle input will be applied at the start or the end of the pedal travel.
Creating and adjusting your own iRacing car setups can be a fine art. It is important to understand how certain setup options change how your car behaves on track, as you may want to make small tweaks to any setup you are using.
However, it can be very beneficial and save a lot of time to use premade iRacing setups that have been created by other iRacing users, or professional setup shops.
At Sim Racing Setups, we have collated the best car setups for a variety of popular cars in iRacing, which you can find over at our iRacing setup section of our website. We have also created the ultimate guide to iRacing setups, where we run through the best places to find free and paid iRacing setups.
Once you have either created or found a good car setup in iRacing, you can save it for future use. This can easily be done within the setup screen. Simply select the “save as” option to save your car setup for future use. Or select the “my setups” option to load any setup you have downloaded or saved previously.
By default, iRacing provides a range of car setups for most cars. These generally include a combination of baseline, low and high downforce setups. It is handy to have a variety of different iRacing setups ready to use, as you can see how the setups differ giving you vital information on what to adjust. The setups themselves are decent and can improve your car’s performance in given scenarios, but they aren’t normally as good as custom made car setups.
Many places offer free iRacing setups, and many professional setup shops sell them at a cost. Generally, individual car setups can cost a couple of dollars, with full series setup packs costing up to around $20.
You can use the links below to shop for your favourite sim racing products, or for any products that we may have recommended. These links are affiliate links, and will earn us a small commission, with no additional cost for you.
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