F1 23: Grip – Motorsport’s Holy Grail

Motorsport and Grip: An Essential Pairing

In every race, whether in reality or in SimRacing, the term "grip" is inevitably mentioned at least once.

But what exactly is grip?

Technically speaking, grip is nothing more than the coefficient of friction between the tire's surface and the track's surface.

The higher the coefficient of friction, the more grip we have.

It's evident that a soft compound tire has a higher coefficient of friction than a hard tire, resulting in more grip.

To give you an idea, the friction coefficient of a normal road car tire is around 0.7, while Formula 1 tires, for example, boast a coefficient of up to 1.7!

To fully understand what grip is and where it comes from, however, we must delve a bit deeper into friction, specifically into Rolling Resistance.

Rolling Friction is the force that acts on objects when they roll on a surface and is infinitely weaker than the other two known types of friction, namely sliding and static friction.

This explains why most land transportation uses wheels: bicycles, single-seaters, skates, scooters, skateboards, and so on.

This friction is both the reason why tires generate grip through heat and the cause of tire wear and performance degradation.

Let's consider a practical example.

If you take two notebooks and interleave some pages to make them "intertwine" with each other, and then try to pull them apart from the two ends, you'll find that it’s…

...practically impossible to separate them!

This happens because there is FRICTION between each sheet of paper, and since friction is a PASSIVE force (meaning it comes into play when there is also another force)...

...and always works in the opposite direction to which the object is moving or trying to move, as we pull on one side to separate the two notebooks, the friction pulls in the other direction.

Obviously, the more sheets we interleave, the greater the frictional force, because essentially the surface area on which the friction acts is larger.

Moreover, the more force we use to pull from one side to the other, the more the pages press against each other, increasing the contact pressure and thus the same frictional force!

For this reason, for example, the rear tires of an F1 car or an Indycar are wider because they are on the drive wheels, which transfer the power to the ground!

Therefore, more surface area = more friction, more friction = more grip, more grip = more traction!

And, since the frictional force between two contacting surfaces (rubber and asphalt) depends on the weight of the object above (thus the rubber), what can we use on the track to increase the weight pressing our tires to the ground?

Downforce, the aerodynamic load!

Downforce doesn't directly modify the coefficient of friction, which instead depends on the tire compound, but it changes the frictional force because it increases the vertical force on the tires!

Think about it for a moment. 

Why, if you increase the value of the wings, are we slower on the straights?

Imagine a model of a car and imagine that your hand is the aerodynamic load pushing the car towards the ground.

The more you push, the more grip the car has, but it will also be slower when you try to push it forward at the same time.

In practice, by increasing the weight over the tires (thus increasing the value of the wings), you are increasing the friction between the tires and the asphalt...

...increasing the grip and the car’s speed in mixed sections, but effectively slowing it down on the straight sections!

Well, we've reached the conclusion of this post in which we've explained what grip is and how crucial it is in F1, SimRacing, Motorsport, and even in everyday life.

But be aware, to fully exploit grip on the track, to be competitive and to be able to fight for the victory in F1, you must learn to use Driving Techniques!

Without knowing and applying the basics of driving well, you will struggle immensely and never manage to beat your rivals.

That's why it's necessary for you to start a journey that will allow you to race hard and without fear of making mistakes.

But the good news is that you can embark on this journey with us at ADT!

We are professionals in the field and have already helped thousands of drivers significantly lower their track times.

First, we invite you to read other posts on our blog by clicking the button you'll find below:

See you soon and when in the doubt, flat out!