Updated: Mar 31, 2021
Let's face it: Everyone hates understeering. But could you cause yourself more issues than necessary by turning in too much? Find out with our latest video guide.
As always, you can find the video's full script below in case you would like to read about certain details.
How to avoid understeering? Track Titan guide on turning in too much
Understeering: definitely one of the most annoying problems on track but what we see a lot of drivers doing wrong is actually turning in more.
Why is that an issue? Well, when you're understeering, you're skidding over the front wheels, right? You turn in but actually, nothing happens so intuitively, what you might end up doing is actually turning in more.
In this video, we're going to be talking about why that's actually not just not helping you but actually making things worse by looking at some physics principles and then showing you some live action on track.
Let's look at this in action: We're coming into turn three here at Barcelona and you can see that we're starting to understeer a bit and then, by turning in more, we're just making things worse and actually going wide into the barrier.
In order to understand why you're understeering in the first place and why turning in even more is worse for you, we need to understand one fundamental vehicle dynamics concept and that is about something called the slip angle of a tyre.
Whenever we go into a corner, we ask the tyres to point into a certain direction so if we look at the video here, we're turning in and what the slip angle is about, really, is the difference between where the tyres are pointing and where the car actually wants to go.
As you can see in this case, we have a 20-degree slip angle which is quite a lot which basically means the car wants to travel in a straight line whereas the tyres are pointing inwards and that is actually the physics representation of what we call understeering.
What happens in this case? We're asking too much of the tyre and we actually run wide because of that understeering.
A really important point to note though is that having a bit of slip angle on your tyres is actually a good thing for you. Let's look at this graph to really understand why that is. We have on the x-axis the slip angle of a tyre and on the y-axis we have the lateral force going through that tyre. As you can see, as we go from no slip angle at all to just a few degrees, we can actually put more forces through the tire which is good, right? We are basically increasing the tyre's grip limit.
However, that only works to a certain extent so yes, we do want a tiny bit of slip angle and this is what you see race drivers do on track. They're really pushing it just to that point. However, at some point you hit a peak of that graph and beyond that, turning in more i.e giving the car more slip angle, is actually worse.
You can see the grip level decreasing and that's exactly why turning in more when you're understeering is so bad. You're actually robbing the tyre of even more grip than you already did before.
Something that's especially problematic with making that mistake is its effect on tyre temperatures. By scrubbing the tires, you're getting more heat into them. By doing that, you at some point reach the tyre's peak temperature at which its grip level is actually even lower so by doing that, you get into a vicious cycle of more temperature, less grip which again causes you to understeer more which then heats up the tyres so you can see how it's building up a dangerous cycle where you mess up one corner after another.
To illustrate the point in the example that we just showed you, the tyre temperature actually increased by more than five degrees just by messing up that one corner, so you can really see how doing that over and over again, gets you into that vicious cycle that we mentioned.
So there you go; a very simple conclusion: if you're mid-corner and you're understeering, please don't turn in more. What you actually should do, we're going to cover in a different video but most importantly, don't start turning in more, you're just robbing the tyres of even more grip and thereby killing your speed.