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Racecraft: Tuition Series - Understeer


Oversteer isn't a problem with this car, instead I find the car pulling towards the outside of the corner and the gravel traps, why is this?

What you will be experiencing if you are in this scenario is calledundersteer.Understeer is when the front of a car is pushed along and through a corner rather than round it. Typically a front wheel drive car will understeer and you will experience oversteer in a rear wheel drive car. Understeer isn't as much of a problem to suffer from as oversteer because the car is more controllable, you can still get round the corner rather than spinning out even if you are taking a wider line as a result.

Understeer occurs when a car reaches its frictional limit and can't increase its lateral acceleration anymore while it grips the corner. As the lateral acceleration on the car increases the front of the car begins to slide first causing the car to take a wider radius turn through the corner. It is still stable but you are sacrificing that tighter line and can risk being passed on the inside of the turn.

 

 

So if I do experience understeer through a corner how do I correct it?

The best way to correct understeer is to lift off the throttle and allow the nose of the car to pull itself back in to towards the inside of the corner as the grip levels are within the limits of the car again.

The other way to correct understeer can be to drop the car into a lower gear. This has a similar affect as lifting off the throttle does. Because the car is forced to travel at a slower speed the lateral acceleration acting on the car also decreases and begins to fall within the limits of the car again. This method does allow you to maintain more ultimate speed but it does carry a few risks in doing so. Firstly it can damage the engine in the long term and reduce overall performance across the race distance, it also can result in snap oversteer. This is where the front of the car suddenly picks up a high amount of grip and sticks to the track again. The back continues to accelerate and can't hold as tight a line through the corner as the front of the car and so it loses grip and in effect tries to 'overtake' the front of the car. It breaks free and slides round the outside of the car and the corner.