Depending on the series or league you’re involved in the iRacing setups could either be fixed (everyone uses the same iRacing setup) or open (everyone can run a custom iRacing setup). Depending on the car there might be minimal things that you can change like on the skip barber or there could be lots of things to change if your racing the F1 car. The baseline setup that iRacing provides for each car and track combination is a great place to start modifying your setup.
When Should I Change The Car Setup
A lot of new drivers myself included always believed that difference in time between the alien drivers and themselves is the car setup that they are running. I can tell you from experience that it is not the case and in fact, some aliens drive using the iRacing baseline setups. The reason the aliens are so fast is due to talent and great car control plus lots of laps of practice. The best thing to do before changing car setups is run a number of laps until you can consistently lap a circuit within a few tenths of a second. Only then should you change the setup of the car and see if you the changes you make is making a positive or negative on your lap times.
Basic Setup Goals
Your number one goal when adjusting a racing setup is to maximize the cars grip and the best way to do this is to achieve the maximum camber and tire pressure to give the most grip when cornering. After all the car with the most grip, in theory, will be the quickest. The settings will affect the way that car drives but there are other options that can help tune the cars handling to individual driving preference.
Steady-state handling – Adjustments that affect the steady state handling of a race car are items like camber, tire pressures, and anti-roll bars. Good race drivers will keep the car in this steady state more often to make the most of these items as these are the areas that affect maximum grip. Once you have mastered the handling of the car in a steady state you can then go and adjust the transient state areas of the car like dampers and toe. The transient state handling is less important than the steady state are from a grip perspective.
iRacing Setups Adjustments
Getting the Maximum Contact Patch
The first thing that you will want to change to achieve the maximum contact patch when cornering is to adjust the tire pressure and cambers. This will allow for maximum grip when cornering which will lead to a higher corner exit speed and faster lap times in theory.
Within iRacing you can measure the how well the camber setup is working by looking at the tire temps O(outside) M(Middle) I(inside) ideally you will want the inside to be around 15 degrees hotter than the middle and outside depending on the car. Also run a 10 lap stint to check the tire wear as this can be a real indicator of how both the tire pressure and camber are working together. If your tire wear is more in the middle your tire pressures are too much, wear in the inside and outside can indicate not enough pressure. The tire wear should be a fairly even spread with a little more wear on the inside due to the inside of the tire always being in contact with the road surface.
Anti-roll bars are at the top of the list when it comes to getting the most from steady state handling and in some race cars, these can be adjusted from inside the cockpit. The roll bars don’t add or take grip away from the tires but affect how the tires get loaded when the car is cornering. The stiffer you make the car can affect how quickly the car responds to driver steering inputs so if you like the way the car is handling from roll bar adjustments you may need to also make a camber change as the roll bar settings can affect camber.
Toe settings fall into the transient handling category and will come down to driver preference. The toe can affect the way the turning response of the car but having too much toe can cause excessive drag which will cost you top speed on the straights. Another way you can alter the cars response turn in performance is by making changes to the dampers which will give you similar turn in performance and not cost you speed on the straights.
I will add more setup adjustments in time.
If you are looking for iRacing setups for various car and track combinations I would recommend using setup sync which is a place were a number of iRacing setups are shared or check out the iRacing forums as a number of drivers share their setups there.