Note: Replay and Setup can be downloaded at the end of the post.
After messing up the last race on the last lap and most likely killing my chances for the championship, I’m looking forward to this race as the last one this season where I have a chance for winning. After that it’s just Monza where a bunch of Lotus, Eagle and Ferrari drivers are probably going to have the upper-hand.
A Look at the Track
It’s a weird track, but I like it nonetheless. The combination of flat and cambered corners, slow and fast corners, altitude changes and curbs makes for an exciting and challenging circuit, and it takes a lot of effort to produce both a balanced setup and a fast lap.
It is also a track that’s quite hard on the tires, left rear in particular, and this is going to play a big role during the race where outright speed is not going to be enough to get you the best result.
I find it very hard to come up with a setup that allows you to explore the absolute level of grip the tires are possible to give you. There is always a corner on the track where the setup doesn’t work properly and so it’s about deciding which corner to sacrifice the most, but with losing the least amount of time possible.
My usual setups worked OK, but they weren’t as fast as I had a feeling the Honda is capable of. Therefore I tried all sorts of tweaks to figure out what works here and what doesn’t.
One thing that became instantly obvious is that stiffer frontend works really well – it makes the car both more responsive and controllable through the fast corners and changing radius corners, and it keeps the weight transfer under braking and acceleration from being too wild.
I also tried a softer rearend and while that can produce a good lap time, as well as allow for easier application of throttle, it leads to some unpleasant understeer in the middle of corners, especially the longer ones. I suspect I might use a less aggressive setup for the race though, just to some consistency at the expense of speed. A stiffer front ARB seems to achieve that in a fairly high degree.
Gearing also plays quite a role here. Slightly taller gears may be a better choice for the race, not just for the sake of the engine, but to make the driver’s job easier. I tried such ratios and the lap times dropped a little, but I definitely liked the less amount of work required to keep the car on the edge.
Onboard Lap of Jarama
The GPL Track Database provides our reference map:
T1 Nuvolari – staying on the left side of the track on the approach to the corner, just next to the curb, brake a few meters before the point where the armco on the left begins to open up and a gravel trap appears. It’s slightly after the middle point between the 200 and 100 distance signs.
Brake very hard in a straight line, and begin to turn into the corner as you pass the 50 meters sign, but keep braking as much as you can. It helps to slightly ease off the brakes for a moment to change direction, then restore the pressure on the pedal. The idea is to draw a diagonal line through the corner and just touch the apex next to the curb on the inside.
Use the whole width of the track on the exit so you position yourself on the far left side before the slow T2. Braking should never stop all the way in and out of the corner; it’s just the amount of brake pressure that you need to adjust to keep the car balanced while maintaining enough speed to take the car through the whole width of the track.
T2 Fangio – nothing too special about this corner if you’ve done T1 properly. Just aim for a middle apex and try to use the whole width of the road. Be careful with the throttle on the exit as it’s very easy to snap the rear into a spin. It helps to keep half a throttle until the car is almost going in a straight line on the exit of the corner.
T3 Varzi – this is an important corner and you can gain a lot of time if you do it right. Turn into it early, around the time you reach top revs in 2nd gear or have just changed up to 3rd, then as soon as you turn in, lift up the throttle and let the car decelerate so the frontend dives well to the inside, where the road is slightly cambered. Avoid touching the curb, but just brush it with the front right wheel.
Get on the throttle just before you reach the apex, but be smooth and gradual with it – the rear tends to step out all the time as the road camber diminishes. Basically you need to play with the throttle carefully and try to keep the car on the edge, just slightly drifting while you keep turning right. Don’t use the whole track width on the exit, because you need to go to the right-hand side before the next corner.
Once you stabilize the car and it points towards the right side before the hairpin, floor the throttle up until you reach the 50 meters mark.
T4 Le Mans – the best line through the first part of this double-apex left-hander is the middle of the road while you keep braking and changing down to 2n or 1st gear (whatever you’re comfortable with, but I prefer 1st gear easier as it makes the car turn better with the same amount of throttle).
You need to hit the apex of the 2nd part of the corner which is a sharp slow 90-degree left, so timing the amount of speed to carry towards it and the amount of steering lock you apply needs to be good. Ideally you want to do both the deceleration and the steering a smooth and singular process, and avoid making any significant corrections.
Once you reach the apex, go back on the throttle, but avoid applying too much of it; wait until the car is going more in a straight line. Also, don’t run wide, but exit in the middle of the road and aim to go slightly towards the left before the next turn, but not too much.
T5 Farina – this is a fairly simple corner, but you need to take as tighter line as possible to gain the most time (even if it feels slower that way). Brake for the corner just before the road dips slightly downhill, and keep braking all the way until the apex while you turn heavily to the right. To make the car turn easier, try not to overdo either the braking or the steering, so the tires don’t scrub too much against the direction of travel. Aim to draw a line that follows the inside curb almost to a T.
Since it’s quite a slow corner, you can step on the throttle early and heavily, but there comes a point where you need to lift up slightly before you can accelerate fully again. It’s just to account for the moment when the engine reaches the beginning of its optimum torque range and also the minor change in road camber. Don’t use the whole road width on the exit, but keep a middle line.
T6 Pegaso – I really enjoy this corner and you gain quite some time if you’re brave through it. Turn left just when the road begins to go uphill and lift up the throttle just enough so the car stops accelerating. As soon as it begins to drift a bit, apply some throttle so you maintain some acceleration and balance the car, without adjusting your steering wheel anymore.
Aim to go over the most part of the curb on the inside and keep a tight line initially; avoid running wide until you reach the top of the hill, otherwise you need to deal with a nasty high curb on the outside. Just before you go over the top of the crest, increase the acceleration smoothly and let the car drift to the right. Aim to position it just parallel with that high curb on the exit of the corner.
T7 Ascari – brake at the middle point between the 100 and 50 signs, so at about 75 meters from the corner. Turn into it just after you pass the 50 mark and although it feels that you turn in too early, the car is going to drift wide all the time, so keep decelerating all the way, staying either in 3rd or 2nd (I prefer 2nd as it gives me more throttle control).
Once you’re past the apex, apply some throttle for a bit to straighten the car and increase the speed, then brake heavily for the next corner while you’re on the left side of the track.
T8 – it’s VERY important to take a tight line through both apexes here. Even though the road is wide, you lose chunks of time if you run even slightly wider, because it delays your acceleration and also sends you too wide on the exit. It’s best to try and use as little track width as possible on the exit of the 2nd part of the corner.
T9 Bugatti – You enter this turn blindly, but once you do it properly a few times, it becomes quite enjoyable. Turn into it neither too late or too early, and lift up just as you go past the top of the crest before the road drops down. Let the car decelerate just enough so you get close to the apex on the inside, next to the high curb, then gradually but quickly get back to full throttle down the hill.
T10 Pegio – braking for this corner is always tricky and it has two phases – one before the slight right-hand kink and another before the hairpin itself. The straighter your line before the corner, the easier those two phases are and the less you need to lift up the brakes in order to turn the car slightly to the right around the curb of the kink before the actual corner.
You will gain a lot of time if you keep a very tight line around this corner, taking a line that’s parallel with the curb initially and then opens up slightly, before reaching the right-hand side of the track on top of the hill. I find that it’s much easier to make the car turn through this corner if you always maintain some amount of throttle applied, just enough so the car is not completely rolling on its own and not too much so it accelerates and pushes wide.
T11 Monza – This is a similar corner to some of the previous ones, except this time it goes to the right. Brake hard a few meters after you pass the 50 meters sign, then aim for the middle of the road in the first part of the corner, decelerating all the way. Turn back into the 2nd part of the corner early enough, so you can rotate the car around and position the front right wheel as close to the curb as possible. Even though that means going slower, it allows you to accelerate much earlier than if you take a wider line.
Be careful with acceleration on the exit as the rear is going to try and step out of control. Go parallel with the curb on the short straight before the final corner.
T12 Tunel – although you can’t see this corner before you reach it, the turn-in point is relatively easy and intuitive – it’s midway between the 100 and 50 meters signs. You don’t need to brake much for this corner, but just enough so you balance the car. What is important is your throttle control and being smooth with it, as you lift it up somewhat to allow the car to hug the curbing on the inside, just next to the grass where the apex is.
Once you go past the slight bump in the road there, begin to accelerate up to full throttle and drift all the way to the left on the exit, next to the armco. Use up the revs properly so you extract all the speed available and complete the lap!
Replay and Setup Downloads
Here’s a download link for a ZIP file with the replay of my lap and the setup I used: