French F1 2021 setup guide
France is looking to make a return to the calendar after the real-world French GP being cancelled last year. It was in the 2020 game, and is returning for F1 2021.
As this track hasn’t changed from last year, and the car’s are reasonably similar, our setup mentality stays the same for F1 2021.
Paul Ricard is an extremely quick track, with fast untraditional corner sequences and a tendency to punish tyres. The fast sweeping corners require a stiff car setup, and one that can handle direction change well.
You can quickly run in to tyre trouble if you setup your car too stiff or harsh. And this is a comprimise you’ll have to carry throughout a race weekend in France in F1 2021.
Aerodynamics vs straight line speed
The French circuit has the tricky combination of a very long straight, with a mixture of medium and slower corners. This is a nightmare when it comes to creating the perfect car setup, as you will have to comprimise throughout the setup process.
You will want to run as low downforce as you can, especially at the front of the car. The lower you go the faster you’ll be through the long straight. But you’ll have to keep enough downforce in that car to be able to get the car turned in well through the corners.
The rear downforce can be set slightly higher to keep the rear end grip through the fast sweeping corners.
Ultimately, you should look to run slow to medium amounts of downforce across your car setup. This will serve as the best comprimise between top speed and downforce.
Traction is an area of the car which is relatively easy to setup for France in F1 2021. There are few slow corners or heavy traction zones. This means we can setup our differential pretty high.
Higher differential setups will allow the rear wheels to rotate at similar speeds through corners. This results in higher mid corner speeds and more responsive acceleration.
The perfect suspension setup
Paul Ricard is a circuit which is extremely flat throughout. Even a lot of the kerbs are simply painted onto the track surface. This approach allows us to run a much stiffer suspension setup than we do at other circuits.
A stiffer suspension setup will allow your car to be more responsive throughout direction changes, but does also adversly affect tyre wear. If you stiffen your car too much you could be hindering the ability to keep tyre wear down.
If this is the case, you can soften your car a little, reduce your suspension geometry aggressiveness or lower tyre pressures a touch.
On the subject of suspension geometry. You can opt for more camber than default. Somewhere between average and maximum camber should be the sweet spot. Again, if you are suffering with tyre wear, look to reduce the camber a touch.
More camber in your setup will allow you to keep a higher average speed through corners. You can lower your toe to minimise drag throughout the lap. The lower your toe setup, the more top speed potential you should have.
Keep you anti-roll bars in line with your suspension stiffness. Stiffer anti-roll bars will help you throw the car through some of the quicker direction changes found at Paul Ricard.
The flat track surface also allows you to run an aggressive ride height setup. You can push your ride height very low at France in F1 2021. This will further help minimise drag and improve your top speed.
Braking and tyre pressures
Paul Ricard is a track which allows you to increase your brake pressure. The surface doesn’t feature many bumps, meaning it’s easier to keep the brakes engaged without locking a wheel.
Bump your brake pressure up and keep your brake bias fairly balanced. A balanced brake bias will help distribute the braking force, and prevent any real chance of locking a wheel.
Due to the high degradation nature of Paul Ricard, you should look to try and offset some tyre wear through your tyre pressure setup. Lowering your tyre pressures will help keep tyre temperatures down, and decrease tyre wear.