Seven teams have their factory within spitting distance of the Silverstone track, making it very much the home of Formula 1. Sitting on an old airstrip, the flat, fast, track layout is one of the most enjoyable to drive in F1 2018, but it's also hard to get right. You are at full throttle for some 70 percent of the circuit, but you also need an extremely responsive car for the several sweeping corners and fast changes of direction. How should you set your car up for Silverstone?
You can find the F1 2019 British Grand Prix setup here.
With the Wellington Straight and Hangar Straight you'd like to trim off as much wing as possible. But thanks to Copse Corner, Stowe, and the Abbey/Farm switch you need some downforce otherwise the car will just shoot off into the gravel trap. A 3-4 balance creates a little understeer, but it also allows you to fly down the straights and we can balance it out later in the setup.
This part of the setup is about getting the power down onto the tarmac and how we allow the rear wheels to operate. A locked differential forces the rear wheels to rotate at the same rate, which is great for traction but poor for tyre wear.
For Silverstone we have locked up the on throttle differential to 82 percent. This allows us to get out onto the Wellington Straight with good acceleration and come out of Club onto the pit straight well. Off throttle we have unlocked the differential ever so slightly to 72 percent. This helps with turn in as it lets the inside wheel rotate more freely, that aids tyre wear too. This helps us get into corners like Brooklands and Luffield, as well as helping get the nose into Copse.
This part of the setup is about how the wheels are aligned with the body of the car. All F1 cars are set with negative camber, which means that the top of the tyre is closer to the car than the bottom. This improves cornering grip, which is something we need a lot of at Silverstone. Abbey, Farm, and Copse are all flat out, and the Maggotts/Becketts/Chapel section is flat out to start with. This means we need the mechanical grip from the tyre to compensate for the aerodynamic downforce we have taken off the car. So we have added some slight camber to the tyres.
Toe is about the horizontal alignment of the tyres. The front tyres are set to toe out, meaning the front is further away from the car than the back, making it more responsive on turn in. We have added slightly to the toe so that we get the nose into the corner. With the rears, that are set to toe in, we have reduced the toe, again to make the rear a little more responsive. This hurts straight line speed a little, but the lack of wing angle helps make up for that.
This part of the setup is vital, and it sets how you allow the weight to move around as you brake, accelerate, and corner. It creates responsiveness as well as tyre wear.
We have a stiffer front end than rear here. This is generally the best way to set your suspension as it prevents forward weight transfer under braking but allows rearward weight transfer under acceleration, helping traction. It also makes the front end more responsive than the rear, creating oversteer that counters that understeer we made earlier.
The anti-roll bars are surprisingly stiff at 7-7. This allows a more responsive car when making quick changes of direction. This is necessary for the Maggotts/Becketts/Chapel section that has five steering changes at high speed.
Silverstone is a pretty flat surface, which would normally mean the ride height should be low, however you take a lot of kerb to maximise your racing line on this circuit. You need to steal a lot of kerb on the inside and outside of Copse, through Maggotts and Becketts, out of Stowe, into Vale, and through Abbey/Farm at the start of the lap. To do all of that at high speed you need a 5-5 ride height.
There are surprisingly few big braking zones at Silverstone, so you don't need to pump up the brake pressure too much. Here we have set it at 83 percent to give us good stopping power for Vale and Brooklands.
The slight rearward move of brake bias to 59 percent adds a little more oversteer to the car to help us turn in.
Silverstone is hard on tyres, so while you might want to add some tyre pressure to the fronts to improve their responsiveness and reduce their rolling resistance, it would just increase their wear too much. We have already taken some life out with the camber and toe, so we can't afford to do it more with the pressures.
At the rear we have taken some pressure out to aid traction and also help extend tyre life just a little.
We have shifted the ballast rearward slightly to 7. This helps with traction and creates a touch more oversteer that we can use at the slower points of the track.
There is our setup for the British Grand Prix. It's well balanced for straight line speed and performance through the corners, but it can be a little snappy if you get on the throttle too aggressively. See you on the time sheets!
British Grand Prix Wet Lap Setup
Front Wing: 6
Rear Wing: 8
On Throttle: 55%
Off Throttle: 75%
Front Camber: -2.60
Rear Camber: -1.20
Front Toe: 0.09
Rear Toe: 0.32
Front Suspension: 8
Rear Suspension: 6
Front Anti-Roll Bar: 9
Rear Anti-Roll Bar: 6
Front Ride Height: 5
Rear Ride Height: 5
Brake Pressure: 85%
Front Brake Bias: 58
Front Tyre Pressure: 23.4 psi
Rear Tyre Pressure: 21.5 psi