People who get fast lap times in Project Cars know how to do two things:
1. Tune cars for specific tracks
2. Use real racing techniques to optimize their line on the track
Well, what do you do if you have no interest or knowledge of tuning?…you got to get really good at using racing techniques, finding the best racing line, and using other peoples tunes!
Today I have you covered, because it wasn’t that long ago that I was slogging around the track with less than impressive lap times.
The truth is tuning just isn’t my thing…I’d rather spend my time racing.
There are quite a few driving techniques and tuning work-arounds you can use to improve your lap times…
You don’t even need to know how to tune!
This detailed list will provide you actionable advice that you can apply to Project Cars and for the most part any racing game. These tips will work no matter what platform you play on: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, or Oculus Rift.
Let’s rev the engine and get started.
Tips for Faster Lap Times in Project CARS
Project Cars isn’t like other racing games where you upgrade parts or try to reduce weight and then tune the car. This game gives you the car with a full racing setup with nothing to add or takeaway parts wise.
If you are not gonna learn how to tune in Project Cars, then you better put all your focus on becoming a better driver. I think it’s important to recognize that tuning makes the MOST significant difference in your cars ability to perform optimally.
Since tuning requires some level of knowledge we need to figure out how to get around that. Next we will move into best practice racing advice like cornering braking, accelerating, etc.
1. Watch Tuning Videos and Replicate Their Settings
A lot of experienced racers post their tunes on video boards. This is a great way to go see how someone has a particular car set up for a specific track. You can replicate the settings and get a good baseline tune.
Below is a playlist of tune’s and tuning advice. The tunes are great baselines for car setups and will get you zipping around the track with a stable and fast car.
To see the full playlist below you can scroll through to find a specific tune click the top left icon on the video.
This will pull up a drop down menu of all of the hand selected videos for tuning in Project Cars.
While tuning isn’t a requirement it is a huge difference maker. Its important tunes are made per car for specific environments…
2. Understand Types of Tunes and How They Relate To Track Types
If you are using tunes setup by other Project Cars gamers, then you need to understand that cars are often tuned for a specific track.
For example: a short track with lots of turns and short straights like Catalunya Club (1.05 miles and 6 turns) requires a handling tune, where a different iteration of the same track Catlunya GP (2.87 miles and 16 turns) will need a tune that will offer more acceleration and top speed.
Cataluna GP vs Club
You can see just looking at the track layouts that two different tracks could require a car to have a specific tune for it. One tune can’t necessarily be applied to all track types. Also Tunes by other drivers tend to be tailored to their driving style and may not be ideal for how you drive, you may need to test different tunes to find one you like.
As I promised this article is not focused on specifics of tuning, so lets move into some actionable racing tips.
3. Get a Good Starting Line Launch
If you wanna be fast. Its important to start fast. The video below covers everything you need to know about a good launch. The most important factor though is whether or not you are using the Auto Clutch Assist.
The auto clutch ON start isn’t a bad option, but I would encourage you to learn to launch the car without using the assisted setting. You can get a much better start with auto-clutch OFF.
If you are using the auto-clutch ON assist, try holding the handbrake at the start instead of the clutch, rev the engine, and release the handbrake when you are ready to go.
Pro Tip: If you use auto-clutch assistOFF, then you need should assign a button to start the car. This we if you stall out you can get the car started.
TWith auto-clutch OFF, the best thing to do is practice the start of the race. Go into a practice session in a car that you want to race with and start and stop over and over again until you can launch the car without stalling. Try playing with the percentage of throttle and clutch and then releasing the clutch at different intervals.
If your tires are spinning, then they are not gripping the pavement, and you are not launching effectively.
Ideally you want to find the sweet spot in your RPM’s where you can achieve maximum traction and maximum power. Every car is different and your best bet is to practice and find the sweet spot for the throttle/clutch exchange.
Pro Tip:If you feel like you have the RPM sweet spot for launch, but your launch is sluggish regardless, it’s possible that it’s caused by the Traction Control System in the assists. Try turning the TCS off in the assists and see if that effects your launch acceleration. Assists are great, but they can also be a detriment to faster lap times.
Once you learn to launch efficiently, then next thing you will need to learn is how to avoid the accidents at launch and the first turn…lol.
4. Setup Your Corners with a Consistent Approach
When approaching a corner:
Ultimately if you can go into a corner slow and come out fast it’s much better than coming in fast and going out slow! Setting up your corners consistently should start with taking a wide approach and then performing one driving action at a time:
Over time and with experience you can combine your actions like the pic below, but if you are a beginner focus on completing one action at a time. It will be much easier to control the car through the turn and help you focus on completing each step.
As you turn, your goal is to use the lowest possible slip angle with the maximum amount of traction. Your traction will be improved if you build up the tires cornering force slowly. To achieve that, turn the wheel slowly towards the apex, don’t just cut the wheel quickly into the turn.
If you find yourself plowing through the corner because you had too much speed, you can trail brake a bit to hold your racing line, but you shouldn’t be going fast enough that you need to jam on the brakes.
Pro Tip: If you are braking hard at the mid-way point then there’s a good chance you turned in too late or approached the corner too fast.
Pro Tip: Listen to your tires. Tire squeal is an indication of traction loss. If your tires aren’t gripping the road, then you are not moving at your maximum speed potential.
5. Catch the Apex for a Speedy Exit
Corners have 3 parts: The turn in, the apex, and the turn exit. The apex is the highest point of the turn arch. You can see here the racing lines as they relate to the apex. The red line (Early Apex) is NOT good, the yellow line (mid apex) is good, the green line (late apex) is best.
The Late Apex (The Green Line)
The late apex occurs just after the high point point of the turn and when done correctly will increase your speed on turn exit. The reason it increases your speed is because is allows you to straighten your wheels quicker and get on the throttle.
No matter whether you catch the apex or the late apex, once you cross the apex all of your braking should be complete and you should be focusing on a fast turn exit and straightening your wheel. The slower you move the cars steering wheel the faster your speed will be. So try to be smooth and dont be hurky-jerky with the wheel!
For the throttle you can feather the pedal a bit (pump it gently to maintain or increase speed). It’s generally better not to coast through a turn. If you can apply throttle or brake (with left foot braking) you can shift the weight of the car to where you need it. I will touch a bit more on this in tip number 9.
6. Smooth Turn Exits are a Product of Easing Down the Throttle
The accelerator is not an on/off switch, be conscious of how quickly you press it down. Once you feel like you have the car under control, you can put it to the floor, don’t jam it down until then.
Most people are too quick on the throttle which often causes a power surge resulting in the car shimmying and losing valuable seconds. This is particularly true in RWD cars with lots of horsepower.
Pro Tip: You can start applying throttle the moment you cross the mid or late apex, but be aware that too much throttle too early will lead to under steer on your turn exit. Your perfect approach and turn in can quickly go from “oh yeah” to “oh shit”.
7. The Most Important Corner is the One Before the Straight
Not all corners are equally important. Even if you hit the first corner in a series or a chicane to fast and end up over braking, the most important corner to ace is the one before a long straight. Races are won in the straights, not in the corners.
A speedy corner exit done correctly before a long straight allows you to achieve maximum acceleration on the straight. The longer you are at full speed, the faster your lap time.
Pro Tip: Look at the map of the track before you race. Take note on where the longest straights are located. Make sure you use sound turning techniques in the corners that precede them.
Let’s take a quick look at Brands Hatch GP and see which are the most important corners to nail:
Catching a smooth and fast turn exit on these two turns will get you the most bang for your buck. If there is no other turns you nail on Brands Hatch GP aim to get these two the best.
I often hear a lot of online racers suggest that, the most important corner is the first corner of the race. I am of the opinion…
8. The Suggested Racing & Braking Line Can be Misleading
If you race Project cars with the full racing/braking line on and you follow it to a tee, then without a doubt, there will be room in your lap times for improvement. For some turns the game suggests a decent racing line, but for others it’s not the fastest way through the turn. For braking it often is guiding you to brake much too early.
This comes with practice, but don’t just blindly trust the line. Alot of turns have the racing line are geared towards a mid apex line, when you can certainly be faster with a late apex.
For the most part Project Cars does a good job of pushing the racing line over the rumble strips on the inside of turns and directing to you to rub the rumble strips on the outside…but not every turn on every track is suggested correctly. Look for opportunities were you can use the full track, where the suggested line is wrong.
Pro Tip: The rumble strip is a good indicator of how you are catching the turn. The rumble strip is considered part of the track and its there to indicate you are right at the edge. Use it to your advantage.
Pro Tip: Use your pre-race practice sessions to see how much you can cheat corners without drawing a flag or effecting your turn speed. If you know the exact amount you can cheat a turn and hit it when you need it most, you will win more races than you lose.
By braking slightly after the suggested braking line tells you, you can shave valuable seconds off your time because you are maintaining top speed longer. Every second counts. On the whole you should wait about 1 to 1.5 seconds after the line turns red before you apply the brake. Project Cars kicks on the red line MUCH to early for most turns.
While my best suggestion is to learn the tracks with the line off, I understand that not everybody is quite there yet with their skills set. If you are using the line ON…
When the line is:
Green – apply full throttle
Yellow – stay on the throttle (but ease up a bit)
Red -only apply enough brake to get line back to yellow/green
Pro Tip: Don’t be deceived you can fly through many turns when the line is yellow.
9. Brake As Little As Possible
The less time you spend braking, the faster you will be. People brake all over the track especially when racing in online multi-player. You see it all the time, braking in a traffic jam, braking on turn exits, or even braking on a straight. Try to identify the places you brake to correct your speed and see if you can let off the throttle instead to coast.
If you play multi-player races you can really just watch brake lights and see peoples bad braking habits. It makes you want to scream when you hit a corner perfectly and the person in front of you taps the brakes on the turn exit and you tap the back of their car losing all of your potential speed.
Of course if you have the damage on you are in even more trouble with every collision.
It’s important to try and avoid even minor collisions…every time you run into a another driver you reduce your speed, which takes time to build your acceleration back up and increases your lap time.
Pro Tip: The more you use the brake, the slower you will be, and the more you increase the probability of using the incorrect amount of pressure causing a lock up.
Pro Tip: Limit your aggressive driving and watch for brake lights ahead. Minor collisions can be much worse than braking mistakes because you can’t control the outcome of a collision.
Left Foot Braking
Left foot braking is a good technique for two reasons. First it allows you to eliminate the transfer time between the throttle and the brake that you get with by right foot braking and second it allows you to better control your cars weight transfer through turns.
With left foot braking there is no transfer from throttle to brake. You are either on the accelerator or on the brake and you are doing very little coasting. When you are left foot braking through a turn it allows you to balance the car as needed.
Check out a real driver explain and show left foot braking. The same principals apply to Project Cars.
Pro Tip: Left foot brake in turns that require no shift and right foot brake in turns that require you to shift.
10. Concentrate on Your Individual Performance
This is particularly true if you are racing online. It’s easy to get frustrated with other drivers who brake in weird places, take awkward racing lines, or simply just don’t have the best interest of the PCars community in mind.
When an A*hole slams into the back of your car and pushes you off the track, your natural instincts are to get revenge. This only adds to the chaos and I would implore you to temper your aggression. The more you focus on mistakes, the more mistakes you will create and the slower you will be. Focus on your driving and making the best lap you can get for the circumstances you are dealing with.
Pro Tip: A best practice is to look and think as far ahead as possible. Look for brake lights, accidents, and people swerving around a puddle. The last thing you want to be is the A*hole who starts the train wreck.
11. Practice How You Plan to Race, Then Race Like You Practiced
PCars isn’t easy and it wasn’t designed to be. You got this game because you wanted a sim racing experience, so don’t neglect using the practice sessions they offer you pre-race.
Practice is important because you need to understand where you can be fast, how you need to setup your corners, and identify landmarks on the track to identify your braking distances. Some racks have distance markers on the turns to disclose distance until turn. If there are no markers start looking for a landmark that you can spot consistently.
Practice is about learning the car, the track, and even the weather. A few laps before a real race can go a long way. In the video below Stella Stig shows off how he establishes his visual braking ques. This is the type of planning you should be doing pre-race.
Once you are familiar with a track you can certainly ease up on your pre-race routine, but a few practice laps is always recommended for your best racing performance when it matters.
12. Minimize your Steering Inputs
This may seem like its pretty rudimentary, but it’s worth mentioning. The less you do with the steering wheel the less errors you will make. Even the most subtle turn at 200 mph can be disastrous. Practice easing off the fine tuning inputs on long straight-a-ways. Small movements of the wheel can slow you down and put you at risk.
Pro Tip: If you feel like your wheel is too sensitive to your inputs at high speeds, try lowering your Speed Sensitivity settings on the controls menu. The higher you set the speed sensitivity, the less your front wheels will turn at higher speed.
The straighter your wheels are with throttle on the floor the faster you will go.
13. Take Advantage of the Games Settings and Assists
On the whole you will find that lap times are consistently faster if you learn to drive by turning the assists off. However I understand that doesn’t work for some people and in that case be ok with the fact that you have to do what’s best for you.
I know people in the community frown upon assists, but who cares…at the end of the day it’s a game, have fun. If traction control works better for you and helps you keep the car on the track, then just turn it on and be ok with it.
Game Pad Settings
We all know that when Project Cars launched the gamepad settings sucked. I found a great article here that breaks down the gamepad settings to normalize most cars.
The article linked above breaks down more the info on the settings in more, but here are the basics:
Steering Dead Zone: 0
Steering Sensitivity: 30
Throttle Zead Zone: 0
Throttle Sensitivity: 50
Brake Dead Zone: 0
Brake Sensitivity: 30
Clutch Dead Zone: 0
Clutch Sensitivity: 45
Speed Sensitivity: 75
Controller Filtering: 50
Force Feedback: 100
Racing Wheel Settings
Here are the general setting I use for all my racing wheels:
Steering Dead Zone: 0
Steering Sensitivity: 50
Throttle Zead Zone: 0
Throttle Sensitivity: 50
Brake Dead Zone: 0
Brake Sensitivity: 50
Clutch Dead Zone: 0
Clutch Sensitivity: 50
Speed Sensitivity: 0
Controller Filtering: 0
Force Feedback: 75
For specific Force Feedback settings try these links for the wheel type you own:
Fanatec GT3RS & CSR
Fanatec CSW V2
Thrustmaster T150 or TMX RS
NOTE: Also worth noting I calibrate to 540 degrees of rotation.
14. Learn To Drive Manual For Certain Cars
Manual gearing is much faster than automatic gearing for most cars. Every time your car shifts (manual or automatic) the front of your car dips down and reduces your speed. When you drive manual, there is less of a dip and you can shift much faster between gears.
With manual gearing you can also keep your car in the power band for longer, which gives you a distinct advantage over someone driving automatic.
If you are brand new to driving manual with clutch, check out this video:
Pro Tip: For the Formula car the auto-clutch can be significantly faster with your times.
15. Add a Few Mods onto Your Gear
If you play with a gamepad, a pair of thumb stick extenders can improve and smooth out your cornering. They increase your range of motion and make handling the left thumb stick more fluent and less choppy around turns.
For Wheel and pedal drivers, there are a lot of great mods at Ricmotech. If you are a Thrustmaster racing wheel owner like I am you can add a larger diameter wheel rim, a short shifter mod kit, and a load cell brake mod kit.
The 599XX EVO rim is about 1 inch larger in diameter than the standard Thrustmaster rims. The larger rim not only feels more authentic, but it really does a great job of delivering the sensations of the car into your hands. This will certainly help you with control and understanding of how the car is behaving.
The short shift mod kit for the TH8A shifter, reduces the throw path forward and back by 35%. It’s a pretty inexpensive upgrade and can make a huge difference in reducing your shift times. Over the course of a race I noticed about a 1.5 to 2 second difference in my total race time. May not seem like much, but getting the car into gear faster makes a difference.
The load cell brake mod for the T3PA Pro or T500 will shave seconds off your lap times. This mod will allow you to brake a bit later, minimize brake lock up, and allow for more efficient trail braking. The load cell brake mod has made the most significant difference in speeding up my Project Cars lap times.
16. Read Ultimate Speed Secrets
For faster lap times in Project Cars or any racing game understanding racing techniques is vital. One of the best books I have read that helped improve my Project Cars driving skills was Ultimate Speed Secrets: The Complete Guide to High-Performance and Race Driving by Ross Bentley.
The book is written by a professional race car driver and offers practical advice for identifying the correct racing line on the track, how to manage weather conditions, cornering techniques, and more.
I felt a little ridiculous reading a book to play a video game better, but hey I feel much better about my improved lap times. I initially bought it because a Reddit user on the Forza Motorsport forum suggested it and it’s helped me in all my racing games!
Other Project Cars Resources
Here is a quick list of some great Project Cars resources around the net:
Ready for Faster Laps
Even applying one or two of the techniques discussed above can make a huge impact on your lap times. We can certainly debate about whether a gamepad or racing wheel gets faster times, but everybody is different and it all boils down to the skill of the driver.
In my opinion a racing wheel offers smoother cornering and takes advantage of your natural driving instincts, but there are plenty of people who kick my but with controllers. Really a wheel adds more fun, immersion, and simulation…and that’s the real reason I feel like everybody should race with one.
Project Cars Related Gear at Amazon
Do you have any Project Cars driving tips you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below.