We’ve all been there – that moment when we have had to be: The driver, mechanic, crew chief, strategist and the rest of the pit wall – all whilst trying to search for the optimum lap time. It is made even tougher when all these tasks have to be performed during the race, as our attention is already focused on the track and the car itself, not to mention racing the other cars!
Unfortunately, unless you are part of an Esports team or fortunate enough to have an engineer, we must do all this, and, if possible, minimize the strategy calculation during the race by preparing it even before going into the practice session on race day. Whilst there are applications and high-end pieces of equipment that can assist you, we appreciate that not everyone can afford such luxuries – Which is where this article will give you the advantage you require.
Before we begin, there are some key terms and phrases that you should become aware of with regards to Pit Strategies in Assetto Corsa Competizione, all of which will be explained in this tutorial;
- Tyre Management
- Fuel Management
- Double Stint(s)
Undercuts and Overcuts
Knowing how to play with the strategy has certain advantages. One of these is having an option of multiple laps in which the pit stops can be made, translating to be able to stop before or after your rivals.
There are 2 ways to overtake your competition in the pits: undercuts and overcuts. An undercut is a pit strategy where you as a driver decide to pit either “under” or “before” the end of your time driving the car (also known as a stint). Situations in which you may use an undercut may include;
- If you are in a tight battle with another car during a stint in the race, with both of you losing time as a result of the battle.
- You are nearing the end of your stint, yet there are slower cars (known as traffic) just ahead who may hold you up and cost you race time.
- If you have made a mistake earlier on which has compromised the life of the tyre, and you want to try and gain time against other competitors.
In order to execute the Undercut effectively, you will be required to make a pitstop ahead of the cars in front of you. Through having the advantage of fresh tyres, you will be able to offset the duration of the stop against their pace through lapping quicker and, hopefully, pass them either on track or once they complete their stop.
The flipside of this is, of course, that as the stint continues your rival now has the newer set of tyres to attack later on as tyre wear begins to affect you. The advantages of undercuts are that they can be used to get a distinct advantage on other cars by choosing to pit earlier and make the most of fresh grip to gain an advantage. There are, however, a few factors to consider when attempting the undercut;
- You need to try and avoid any spins/lockups or mistakes in order to not damage the tyres.
- You need to avoid pitting during a time that will bring you out amongst other cars, slowing you down.
- You need to be confident in your ability to defend when your on-track rival attempts to fight for position.
An overcut, by contrast, is where you decide “over” or “after” the end of the driving stint. Situations in which you may use an overcut may include;
- Your tyre wear rate is lower than that of the cars around you, meaning you’ve not seen the dropoff in pace that others around you have.
- Weather patterns are forecast to change shortly (such as it starts to rain) after your original stop, and so you would lose time by having to stop twice in short succession.
- The warmup phase of your next set of tyres will be slower than your current pace, meaning that you’re negating any advantage you could gain from the change.
Arguably, the most important factor that will impact pit strategy during a race is that of fuel management. Whilst in a short sprint race it may simply be a case of no stops – any race over seventy minutes in Assetto Corsa Competizione is going to need to factor in a stop for fuel. With that being said, it’s crucial that we calculate as much of the fuel strategy as possible, prior to stepping in the car – not only ensuring that you don’t run out of fuel but also giving you the peace of mind that you can push as hard as possible to the end.
The most basic way to calculate the optimum fuel load is through using the fuel calculator on The Sim Grid. Then in Assetto Corsa Competizione, under the “Fuel and Strategy Tab” (As seen below) you will see an estimated fuel rate/lap. This figure is the guaranteed, safest amount of fuel that the car will burn in one lap. If you drive a couple of laps in-game, ACC will also provide you with a more accurate number in the bottom right-hand corner of the HUD, located just next to the Pedal inputs and RPM gauge. With that in mind, the following calculation will provide you with a required amount for the race.
- Length of Race (in seconds) / Average lap time (in seconds) = Number of Laps.
- Then, multiply the number of laps * average fuel rate per lap.
or, if the race is a set number of laps
- Length of Race (in laps) * average fuel rate per lap.
In either case, we would recommend you allocate and additional three-to-five laps of fuel, in order to accommodate for: any increase in pace from the leaders, any damage sustained from yourself or simply to negate any need to monitor fuel consumption throughout the race and give you the option for an undercut or overcut as we have previously discussed. Bear in mind that as you fill the car up with more fuel, it will become heavier and thus your fuel rate may increase as it requires more power to shift the weight around the circuit – this can also be a factor if you have ballast imposed on your car by the series organization.
Ultimately, Fuel rates can be the difference between winning and losing races – so where possible, try and conduct a test run of a stint to see how your prediction stacks up and see if you have an opportunity to increase (or even decrease) your fuel rate.
In truth, the topic of tyre management is one which requires its own guide (which will be found in our handy tutorial section!) but with regards to Pit Strategy can be an influencing factor and thus we shall provide you with some key factors to consider when making your stop.
The life of a Tyre can be dictated by variables such as;
- The amount of heat travelling through it (tyres that overheat will wear quicker and conversely any tyres that are too cold will wear quick)
- The number of spins, kerb strikes and lockups you have (either from accidents, pressing the throttle too early or using too much kerb)
- The number of laps done (even if you avoid points 1 & 2, the life of a tear is not infinite in Assetto Corsa Competizione and will require changing at some point.)
When deciding your pit strategy pre-race, it’s important to consider how your car set up deals with the above points. If the setup is stable, then you can certainly assume that it will not rely on the tyres as much and thus give you the opportunity to use an overcut. If, however, the setup is one which is very unstable and requires the car to move about a lot, then this will have a negative impact on tyre life and will limit your ability to run the tyres for longer than those around you.
Bear in mind that some racing leagues may require you to “Double Stint” a set of tyres – meaning that you will have to stop, take only fuel and then continue on your race. If this is the case, then utilising a setup that is both economical on fuel and preservative on the tyres can yield free lap time as you have more grip, for longer. For more information on tyre management, then please feel free to check out our other tutorials that will help you learn more about how to gain the most from these.
In summary, this article has touched on various factors to consider when planning the best pitstop strategy in Assetto Corsa Competizione. The main takeaways from it should be;
- What, When and How to utilise an Overcut or Undercut to your advantage.
- How and Why to calculate fuel consumption before the race.
- The significance of looking after your tyre grip levels and how to best plan for this.
By using this knowledge, not only can you give yourself peace of mind on the circuit, but you will also allow you to gain time both on and off the track. If you are looking for somewhere to practice and implement your strategies, then The Sim Grid can be a great place to start – with their wide scope of race lengths you can now drive from 30 minutes right through to 24 hours!