Suspension Tuning is a critical part of getting the ultimate performance package, it is even possible to have a more competitive car then a rival with superior upgrades by having a well balanced set up, which maximises the available grip levels. It all comes done to extracting the best from what components you have and making sure they are well set up for the road or track conditions.
With upgraded suspension components, you have the potential for increase cornering capacities, by fine during the overall suspension balance and even help to eliminate weaknesses in the car chassis or handling characteristics. Suspension tuning can be used to change the way the car behave on different track and road conditions, playing to your car´s strength to gain a competitive edge.
We can reduce understeer and oversteer characteristics with the adjustments of anti-roll bar (sway bars), bump and rebound, ride height, spring rates, corner and static weights. The combinations are extreme and the more adjust-ability you have with suspension upgrades, the more the need to get the suspension tuning correct.
The suspension´s main role is to keep the tyres in contact with the road surface for as long as possible and to optimise the contact patch of the the tyre. We can increase acceleration, braking and cornering forces by manipulating suspension adjustments. Suspension tuning even has an impact on the aerodynamics nature of the car under down force loads. We can increase down force levels with suspension tuning with the adjustments of ride height and spring rates for example.
One key area that you will need to know to maximise suspension tuning, is a good overall picture of your car´s current performance limitations and desired adjustment requirements. When trying to find the right suspension tuning settings it is important to considered a few things about your car and the track conditions you want to drive on.
Here is a list of things you need to identify before you can adjust the suspension to aid in achieving improved suspension tuning objectives:
- The car´s power to weight ratio.
- Engine characteristics, including maximum BHP and torque levels.
- Drive line configuration.
- Current handling balance.
- Weight distribution.
- Aerodynamic downforce levels.
- Tyre width and characteristics.
Track conditions, road smoothness, road camber changes, elevation, weather conditions, corner speeds, straight top speed, braking zones, apex kerbing and even if the track is used regularly or if it is a special event. Or if you want a generalised fast road set-up.
All of the above points, will give you an ideal of what the objectives of the suspension tuning needs to achieve. The old saying “horses for courses” comes to mind. The suspension tuning for a F1 car if emulated for a lowed powered formula Ford, will not be effective, each car has its own needs from a performance point of view from the suspension. Ultimately we want the tyres to remain in contact with the road at all times, with the greatest configurations to ensure maximum grip and loading.