Vehicle dynamics

4 wheels speeds tell you 90% of the story

All is about getting the right balance

Understeer and Oversteer Balance

Car balance is described by the driver as oversteer (rear sliding first, leads to spinning if uncontrolled) or understeer (front sliding first, rear ‘pushing’ the front of the car, slows the car down a lot and stops the driver from going back on power early on exit). Understeer will make the car go slower around a lap but helps the driver keep control of the car.


In 2015, Nissan's ground-breaking GTR LM Nismo had a WD of 65%!

Weight Distribution

First order parameter in car behaviour is how much static weight is reacted by the front tires relative to total weight. A ‘balanced’ racing car has a weight distribution of anything between 44% and 48%. For example, Formula E have got a low weight distribution of 39.5% due to the weight of the battery. This rearwards weight distribution leads to an oversteer balance on entry and exit of corners, a tendency to overheat rear tires and sliding of front tires in mid corner (understeer). This is far from ideal as the balance shifts from oversteer to understeer to oversteer from entry to exit of the corner. P424 is a 4 wheel drive car with a WD close to 48% which is a much more balanced platform to work from.

Aerodynamic Balance

Other very important parameter in car behaviour is how much downforce is reacted by the front tires relative to the total downforce. ABal is generally kept 3-4% lower than WD to ensure that the car remains stable in high speed corners. So for example with P424 we would target ABal of around 45%. Generally on track we are trying to push the ABal as far forward as the driver can cope with as this is done by adding total downforce on the car (more front wing angle). When grip is low (rain) the ABal needs to go rearwards by 2-3% to help the driver control the car with a bit more understeer into it.


Oversteering Formula 1

Roll Stiffness Distribution

Third essential parameter in car behaviour is how much lateral load transfer is reacted by the front tires relative to total load transfer. KRollBal is always >50% (front stiffer than rear) mainly to keep the rear soft and help with traction performance at the exit of corners (keeping both rear tires evenly loaded is required to get the power to the ground). The fine tuning of anti-roll bars is generally a fast setup tool during sessions to adjust the balance of the car. P424 KRollBal baseline is 62.5%.

Vehicle Dynamics Optimisation

Generally to have a fast car, it is best to keep all those parameters away from extreme numbers. A well balanced car will always be better in various tracks and conditions. To achieve balance, the first challenge during the design process is to make sure the weight distribution is correct. For electric cars it means using a 4 wheel drive system, a long wheelbase car (P424) to increase the distance between the battery + MGU and the rear axle.

Telemetry Data

Studying wheels speeds enables to judge if the car behaves correctly:

  • Differential behaviour (slip across the axle) - diff needs to be relatively closed under braking, open gradually to a free open diff in mid corner, and close without oscillations on exit. A small slip on exit is acceptable.

  • Braking behaviour: front wheel locking towards the end of braking is generally not a big problem (under rotation) unless locking is very big (flat spot) - rear under rotation at start of braking is an issue as it will make the driver lose confidence and brake earlier

  • Rear wheel slip on exit needs to be smooth and controlled. Large wheel spin (more than 10% slip) should be avoided at all time.

  • During a perfect qualifying lap, tire slip is kept inside the performance region of the tire (10% slip under braking, 5% slip on exit)