The top Formula 1 and Indycar teams make large use of computer simulation to improve the performance of their cars and make the set-up process quicker on the circuit.
The paper aims to present a lap time simulation software dedicated to racing cars. It is based on the background of vehicle dynamics research developed at the University of Brescia, Italy (see ).
It should be stated that racecar dynamics is strongly non-linear due to the fact that tyres are always very near the limit of adhesion. Moreover this makes the effect of lateral load transfer fundamental for the general balance of the car.
Therefore Pacejka's Magic Formula has been used for lateral force/slip while longitudinal force computation is based on the assumption of a maximum longitudinal coefficient of friction μ. This is not only for simplicity but it is also due to lack of available data. The combined case is then based on the so-called “traction circle”. Lateral and longitudinal load transfer and downforce as well as their effects on tyre load are taken into account.
The vehicle model is capable of following a trajectory acquired with the on-board instrumentation. Also, the use of genetic algorithms enables the program to find the optimum cornering line for any given track. Some results are shown and compared with real world data.