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Motorsport Wheel Alignment: How Tyre Pressure Affects Performance

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How Tyre Pressure Affects Performance

02.37

00:00 - While there's plenty of expensive suspension components that can be fitted to our cars in order to improve performance, one of the most often overlooked aspects of setup in my opinion is the tyre pressure.
00:11 Tyre pressure can have a dramatic effect on the handling balance and the outright grip.
00:16 It's also one of the quickest and easiest aspects of our setup to change and best of all it's completely free.
00:23 What we need to understand is how the tyre pressure affects the tyre contact patch on the road and also how the tyre pressure changes depending on the ambient conditions and the way the car's being driven.
00:35 So with this in mind, let's start by talking about the tyre contact patch.
00:40 Really when it comes to getting the most grip out of our tyres, the contact patch is the key and what we're trying to do is get the most tyre tread onto the racetrack so that it can do its job.
00:51 Where tyre pressure plays a part is that really the tyre could be considered to be a bit like a balloon.
00:56 The more air pressure we put in the tyre, the more it will tend to bulge out in the middle and in this situation we'd only end up with the centre of the tyre tread contacting the racetrack.
01:07 Conversely, with less air pressure in the tyre, the tyre will bulge less and we'll tend to run on the outside edges of the tyre with the centre of the tread doing almost nothing.
01:17 Our aim would normally be to adjust the pressure in the tyre until we have even contact across the full width of the tyre tread and hence we'll see maximum grip from that particular tyre.
01:28 Now that might sound simple however it's a little more complex than this because our tyre pressures will change from the out lap as the tyre gains temperature.
01:37 As we will see in the upcoming modules, there's also a wide variety of parameters that will affect the ultimate temperature our tyre reaches so there's a lot to factor in.
01:47 So far I've been talking about getting the most tyre tread on the racetrack through optimising tyre pressure and this might seem like a sensible approach, however sometimes we may choose to purposefully sacrifice a little grip at one end of the car in order to improve the handling balance.
02:03 For example if we have a car that tends to understeer, then purposefully reducing the rear tyre grip by slightly over inflating the tyre can have the effect of making the car more neutral to drive.
02:15 There are limits to what we can achieve with this technique without adversely affecting tyre life but it is remarkably effective.