Grand Prix 2 - Playing Guide
Oh yeah, just drive round the track if you want. You might even win, if you set the
other cars to novice level. Make them amateurs or professionals, though, and you
might as well go home with your blonde motor racing girlfriend right now,
because you'll be lucky to get in the points if you don't set your car up for each
It's easy, though, and you'll be amazed at the difference it makes. Take
Hockenheim as an extreme example. We took the front wings up a little, took all
rear downforce off completely, upped the fifth and sixth gear ratios by a couple of
points and found another 20mph on the straights, qualifying five seconds quicker
than before. Impressive, huh?
Here's the effect of each adjustment, but remember that every improvement has
its corresponding downside. By way of an example, higher straight speeds result
in slower cornering.
1. Rear wing:
The rear wing gives the car downforce by creating drag. It reduces overall top
speed but means quicker cornering. The effect is also related to speed. As the car
slows, downforce is reduced.
On tracks with plenty of straights and few corners, reduce the rear wing to create
less drag and a higher top speed. On the windy circuits, such as Monaco, give it
some more, particularly during qualifying to get at the front of the grid.
2. Front wing:
Because of the nature of air flow over the body of a car, the front wing doesn't
actually add any drag, and is used simply to balance the vehicle. It does, however,
alter airflow over the rear wing. Too much front wing produces less downforce on
the rear wing, so make sure the front wing has a similar value to the rear.
3. Gear ratios:
The gear ratio affects acceleration and top speed in each individual gear. If you've
decreased the wing values to achieve a higher speed, increase the sixth gear ratio
to make sure that the engine can get you to this velocity. Similarly, if you're
accelerating and decelerating a lot, such as at the Hungaroring, reduce the ratios
to get quicker acceleration at the expense of a lower top speed, a top speed that
you're unlikely to reach anyway.
4. Brake balance:
This affects steering when coming into a corner. If you find that the car is
stubbornly refusing to make the turn as the curve begins (understeering due to a
lack of grip on the front tyres), move the brake balance to the rear. Similarly,
move it to the front if you find yourself oversteering into the corner.
Unfortunately, each time you shift the brake balance from the centre you need to
brake a little bit earlier. Grand Prix adjustments are all about trial and error.
For optimum car handling, particularly braking into a corner, you need to try and
keep your car as level as possible. Bumpy circuits, such as Montreal, can
drastically reduce your traction unless you soften the rear springs. If you find
yourself understeering on the bumps, you should also soften the front springs. Soft
springs, particularly at the front, cause the car to dip forwards when you brake,
reducing braking force and possibly causing the wheels to lock. Shift the brake
balance a little to the rear to compensate for this.
6. Ride height:
F1 cars have a 1cm thick wooden plank attached to the bottom of the body which
may rub against the road unless you compensate for soft springs with a greater
ride height. Dropping the ride height reduces drag even more than reducing the
wing values, but if the plank ever makes contact with the track surface, you'll
generate considerable friction.
Dampers are used in conjunction with springs to control the car in bumpy
conditions by keeping the tyres on the track. If you find yourself losing traction on
the bumps, reduce the rear dampers. Increase them to compensate for
8. Anti-roll bars:
These come into play when you are cornering and your car attempts to roll away
from the inside of the corner. The front and rear anti-roll bars work against each
other. If you are understeering in long corners, soften the front anti-roll bars or
stiffen the rear ones. Softer settings generally reduce tyre wear, improving traction
and grip, but may result in less responsive handling and require a greater ride
height to prevent the plank from rubbing.
Spot the difference:
GP2 provides data logging to help you learn how car set-ups affect handling, and
to help you decide what set-up to try next. The data logger starts when you first
leave the pit lane and stops recording that lap when you either cross the finish line
or re-enter the pit lane. When you eventually come back to the pits you can
download this data and graph it, the idea being to compare it with laps you've
The data recorder plots several different types of information.
Check the laps before and after set-up changes to see if you can now brake later
into the corner. You can also use it without set-up changes to see if later or earlier
braking helps you to take the corner better.
The gear graph is used to help understand the other values, such as a sudden
change in revs. Superimpose it over some of the other graphs.
3. Ride heights
There're actually four of these - one for each wheel. This is perhaps one of the
most obvious ways of changing your car set-up. Bring all four ride heights up on
screen and read off the lowest value plotted. If it showed 20mm, you can reduce
the ride height by 10mm (the plank is 10mm thick) so that the car is as low as
possible on the track without the plank ever catching the ground.
The revs help to show how you are making use of the gears. Look out for the rev
limiter cutting in on straights, where the graph levels out. Combat this by
increasing the ratio for that gear. The revs should continue to increase right up
until the next corner.
This graph helps you to see what straights and corners of the track are fastest. It
should help you to adjust the anti-roll bars, springs and dampers.
6. Steering demand
The steering demand plots turns into corners, with increasing values showing left
turns. This graph is used in conjunction with speed, ride height and suspension
travel to alter anti-roll bars and ride height, but can be helpful in assessing other
7. Suspension travel
Once again, there are separate graphs for each wheel indicating how much the
suspension is moving relative to the amount of travel possible. For instance, when
the travel hits 0mm, the suspension is fully compressed. To make adjustments to
your car, bring up the ride heights and find the lowest height on the track. Go to
the corresponding suspension travel and check the distance. If it reads, for
instance, 2mm, you know that you can add 2mm of packers in the advanced menu
to prevent unnecessary suspension travel. It makes your car more responsive.
The throttle level can be quite misleading. Remember that if you lose traction the
throttle level can blip misleadingly as it still represents poor car performance.
What is much more useful is seeing if your last set-up change meant you could
drive faster around a corner (higher revs) or that you were able to accelerate away
from a curve sooner.
Each of these four graphs shows the speed of the outside of the wheel, which will
be the same as the speed of the car on level road and full traction. It's useful for
seeing where you've lost traction, represented by sharp spikes in wheelspin,
helping you to soften your suspension. Likewise, downward spikes show where
the wheels are locking.
So, with that in mind, here're what we've found to be the best basic combinations
of brakes, wing and gear balances. They may not give you the fastest speed on the
straights but overall they're pretty close to the finest settings we could find. We
gratefully acknowledge the help of the rec.autos.simulators newsgroup and The
No 1 Unofficial GP2 homepage at http://www.sax.de/~sts/_gp2.html in compiling
Wings and Brakes table
Circuit Front Wing Rear Wing Brake Balance (F:R)
Brazil 14 4 34.250:65.750
Pacific 15 8 36.500:63.500
San Marino 15 8 40.000:60.000
Monaco 20 15 40.125:59.875
Barcelona 15 10 39.750:60.250
Canada 14 9 40.500:59.500
Magny Cours 17 11 40.000:60.000
Silverstone 20 13 40.000:60.000
Hockenheim 13 1 37.500:62.500
Hungaroring 20 14 40.000:60.000
Spa Francorchamps 11 9 42.500:57.500
Monza 15 2 40.250:59.750
Estoril 17 12 41.500:58.500
Jerez 20 13 40.250:58.750
Suzuka 18 12 40.625:59.375
Adelaide 20 13 40.250:59.750
Gear ratios table
Circuit 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
Brazil 33:64 39:64 45:64 51:64 58:64 64:64
Pacific 20:64 27:64 36:64 45:64 53:64 60:64
San Marino 24:64 30:64 38:64 47:64 55:64 62:64
Monaco 19:64 26:64 33:64 40:64 47:64 55:64
Barcelona 27:64 34:64 41:64 49:64 55:64 61:64
Canada 25:64 33:64 40:64 48:64 54:64 60:64
Magny Cours24:64 30:64 36:64 42:64 51:64 59:64
Silverstone 24:64 30:64 37:64 43:64 51:64 59:64
Hockenheim 35:64 39:64 46:64 53:64 60:64 67:64
Hungaroring 28:64 34:64 41:64 46:64 51:64 55:64
Spa Francor 25:64 33:64 41:64 49:64 56:64 63:64
Monza 29:64 38:64 45:64 52:64 59:64 66:64
Estoril 24:64 31:64 39:64 46:64 53:64 60:64
Jerez 23:64 29:64 36:64 41:64 50:64 58:64
Suzuka 22:64 30:64 38:64 45:64 52:64 59:64
Adelaide 22:64 30:64 38:64 45:64 53:64 59:64
Green means go:
0-100mph in a couple of seconds, then? Well, if you get it right. You've spent
hours grinding round the track perfecting your car setup and (as Damon Hill
seems to delight in showing us) then make a complete arse of yourself on the
starting grid. A good start derives from keeping the revs as high as possible
without letting the wheels spin. The perfect start can gain you many places and
even win you the race outright on the tighter circuits like Monaco. When you start
have the revs pretty much on max. Stab the accelerator as the wheels spin and
change up gears as fast as possible. The computer cars tend to steer to the centre
before drifting across onto the racing line so if you're feeling brave nip up the
inside. Just make sure to brake in time and don't be afraid to use some crash gear
changes at the start - here the gains generally outweigh the potential technical
In F1GP you required a 75% race distance before the computer cars would make
pit stops but this has been reduced to 50% in GP2. Pit stops only really come into
play in races over 50% full-length on the harder tyre-wearing circuits like
Hungaroring. On a full length race you should generally go for two stops or, if
you favour an extreme driving style on the twistier courses perhaps even three.
Overtaking is probably the area where GP2 has improved most over the first
game. You'll need to be so much more careful if you're to avoid damaging your
car by contact. The best overtaking places are (not surprisingly) at the sharp
corners at the end of the straights. The key to these opportunities lies in the couple
of corners preceding the entrance to the straight. You have to be as close to the
car in front as possible (be aware of the reduced downforce if you get too close)
and ready to follow him up the straight. As you enter his slip stream pull up close
and dart out from behind him at the last possible minute. Brake as late as possible
and swoop on round the corner, taking care not to go wide. Perfecting the late
braking without flatspotting your tyres is the key to this classic, simple
Some kerbs are there to be ridden - some are not. The Bus Stop kerbs on Spa look
more like cliffs at 120mph but the Hockenheim chicanes are beautiful extensions
to the tarmac. Consistent use of the high kerbs is not recommended and only
necessary in some places. Using the majority of the lower, flatter kerbs is essential
to cutting seconds off your lap.
These are here to help you and there's no shame in using them. When you first
start playing the game (even if you are an F1GP veteran) it's probably best to
keep them on for a lap of two. It probably wont take long before you want to turn
them off and, indeed, doing so will greatly improve the speed at which you drive.
The first to go should be the brakes (F1) as once you've learnt the circuit there's
no need for them and the computer braking actually kicks in too early for the most
part. The Self Correcting Spin (F3) and Indestructible (F4) should probably be
eliminated together, as if you're confident about braking in time and under control
you shouldn't be hitting anything round you. It's also highly advisable to hit F3
when approaching and driving in the pits. There's absolutely no harm in having
the Ideal Driving Line (F5) on all the time, especially if you are playing with the
detail turned down which makes it harder to gauge the braking and turning in
points. The Suggested Gear (F6) is vitally important to pay attention to once you
have mastered braking. Keep it on and actively look at it and your rev counter as
you round corners It's your final training helper before you go for the big one -
turning off the gears (F2). Gearless racing will probably be an unrewarding
experience at first. It's relatively easy to drive around changing up gears but
synchronising changing down when approaching a hairpin with fully applying the
brakes and trying to duck inside someone and not overshooting will take time. But
that's why GP2 will be a game we're all playing in five years.