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Mid Engine handling dynamics...what do you know?

Discussion in 'Ferrari Discussion (not model specific)' started by F1Ace, Sep 16, 2004.

  1. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
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    Wes
    OK, so I'm flying around town just now, and I'm wondering as I get back if you guys can tell me how mid-engined cars act at the limit. I've only had my car a few months and wanna learn it without spinning it.

    Have any of you guys spun out a mid-engined car? How does it happen? Is it sudden? Are all mid-engined cars the same in this regard?

    Thanks!
    Wes
     
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  3. BigTex

    BigTex Seven Time F1 World Champ
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 6, 2002
    73,162
    Houston, Texas
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    Bubba
    Find a stadium parking lot on a rainy day and learn it........not hard to do!
     
  4. evansp60

    evansp60 Formula Junior

    Nov 2, 2003
    383
    Ottawa, Ont. CANADA
    I've spun twice now in the last 4 weeks. Both at speed, downhill right hand turn at about 85mph, downhill left hand turn at about 65mph.
    Lesson...don't drive downhill.
    Seriously, I find that the car feels best under acceleration. When you feel tension on the car continue to drive through it. Heavy acceleration is not necessary, just continue gentle pressure on the accelerator.
    UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU LET UP OFF THE ACCELERATOR!!!!!
    You will spin instantaneously. I suspect this was what caused my spins. Even the slightest relief on the pedal will cause the back end to spin around ('89 348). I plan to get spacers for my rear track and go to an 18" rim with wider treads...and continue to learn to drive this beast.
    One witness to my second spin (Mosport - Toronto) also has a 348 and suggested that even if I thought about lifting up the car could sense it and spin as a result.
    As suggested find a space that gives you room and play with your car.
     
  5. Smiles

    Smiles Moderator
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    Nov 20, 2003
    14,103
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    Matt F
    Take a racing course, such as Skip Barber's 3-day Intro to Racing. You'll get some great seat time in a mid-engined open-wheeled car, and you'll learn the answers to your questions. Absolutely everything you'll learn there will apply to your street car,

    Don't try to learn it by yourself on the real road. Your instructor won't have a lot of experience. ;)
     
  6. Brian C. Stradale

    Brian C. Stradale F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa

    Mar 17, 2002
    3,603
    Dallas, TX, USA
    Or take an autocross school in your own car and learn it... I highly recommend the Evolution schools if they come to your area.

    As to your question, a mid-engine car like the Ferrari has its moment of inertia fairly central to the car. That means it rotates very quickly... but you can also control it very easily as well... if you react quick enough. Fortunately, the feel of the car and road in a 360 is fantastic, so you know instantly when the back end starts to step out (despite the magazine guys being unable to feel it).

    The hardest part with the 360 is the very light/touchy throttle. If you panic at all, you can easily apply way too much throttle when you're just trying to apply a little to settle the rear... and if you do that, you'll break the rear wheels loose and your problem will go from bad to worse.

    If you take an autocross school, go ahead and leave it in the lower gears... even if the instructors recommend higher gears. Why? It'll force you to learn a very light touch on the throttle. And that will be key to being able to manage the car effectively at the limit.
     
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  8. SimonA

    SimonA Karting

    Sep 2, 2004
    112
    Wilton, Ct.
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    Simon Adams
    Mid-engine cars are terrific to drive. Loads of fun, but they can burn a novice to mid-engine sports cars. If you have owned Porsches you will completely understand the issue of momentum changes and how it can effect what happens to you. As the cars have gotten more powerful. From the 348 to F355 to 360. The sudden change or spin can catch you off guard. As Brian said the 360 is easier to feel but the power can make it a big problem if it surprises you and you are not ready. Learning what one person said is correct you can go to a big parking lot if it is empty.

    I have not gone to this schools but I have heard they are very good. Porsche Driving School, gives you a get deal of handling trainning. The other is Jim Russell in Canada, this also gives you a good deal of trainning in handling.

    The one thing that can be difficult to learn is when the car's rear end is going to break free and spin. But in addition to this is how do you you catch it and at what point is it beyond your ability to catch or prevent it from spinning. This is not something you want to find out on the street.

    Happy driving Learning can be great fun
     
  9. zakeen

    zakeen Formula Junior
    Rossa Subscribed

    Aug 29, 2004
    984
    Czech Republic
    Just remember, when you lose it, dont take your foot off the pedal! ease off, ever so slightly and hold it when re-griped. Dont Plant it either cause that wont help!

    and yeah parking lot!.......... its all trial and error to get the hang of it. you just want your error to be error-free. So dont practice where there are objects close by, or you will be crying!
     
  10. Artherd

    Artherd F1 Veteran

    Jun 19, 2002
    6,588
    Bay Area, CA
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    Ben Cannon
    You HAVE to spin it!*

    *Under controlled conditions, a deserted parking lot is ideal.

    All the theroey in teh world will not prepare you how to actally drive. You MUST get your car out of control, then learn how to reel it back in. Do this untill you can practically do it blindfolded, then do it again periodically to stay in practice.
     
  11. millemiglia

    millemiglia Formula Junior

    Jan 14, 2003
    925
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Full Name:
    Peter B.
    The old 911 mantra, no sudden lift-offs of the accelerator midcorner or you will have to be Schumi to catch the tail...

    It got alot better after adding spacers to the rear of my 348.

    My experience is unless you push the car really hard (driving 9/10 or 10/10) you shouldn't have any problems.

    /Peter
     
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  13. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    Would absolutely agree. This is directly why we teach pilots to recover from spins and unusual attitudes; the response needs to be near reflexive as you don't have time to contemplate about it.
     
  14. Artherd

    Artherd F1 Veteran

    Jun 19, 2002
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    Ben Cannon
    snj- a very good comparison, I'm working on my private :)

    Peter- perhaps I drive hard then, but I consider knowing the capabalities of both Car AND Driver an absolute essential.

    Infact, I do this parking lot 'get-car-out of control then learn how to get it back into control' thing with every car I have ever owned. Even my pickup truck, I want to know what it does if I ever need to use 100% of it for any reason (you just never know when a big rig might appear in your lane going the wrong way, etc.)

    Mid engine cars are especially finiky, after they are over the edge you need to WORK to get the car back under control. You cannot just lift and hope for the best.
     
  15. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
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    Wes
    I don't know why nobody else mentioned it, but that is a funny line.:eek:

    Great comments guys. Would love to hear more of your 'spin' or 'near-spin' stories.

    Wes
     
  16. nwocorp

    nwocorp Formula Junior

    Nov 1, 2003
    493
    australia
    hmm mayby we should have a driving board, something for things like this the topic on double clutching, heal toeing etc

    whats the chance i can get a rossa subscription for $50 aus rather than $50 US :)

    in regards to spin stories the only time i have ever come close to an accident i was down in melbourne driving a nissan silvia it had been raining and my tires were cold and wet on a wet road and i went to do a u-turn. Stupidly put it full lock slowly went round because it was wet. The back end decided it wanted to continue the same way so i ended up fishtailing up the street, lukily the only thing damaged was my ego. Silvias are notorious for being extremly taily it usally makes for an fun drive, just not when it is raining :)
     
  17. Ken

    Ken F1 World Champ

    Oct 19, 2001
    16,078
    Arlington Heights IL
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    Kenneth
    That's rear engined, not mid. A whole different animal. Porsches have to have a chassy design to lessen oversteer; the car is naturally loose. This means the rear really wants to come around; for a racer or experinced driver this gets you through a turn really fast but will spin if you make any mistake, such as the afore mentioned letting off the throttle. 911's are really for a serious driver; especially the older ones.

    A mid engine car should be more naturally neutral and is usually designed with a little understeer; a push. Letting off the throttle a bit will bring the rear around but if done correctly this will tighten your line in a turn and get you through when you reapply the gas. Even an inexperienced driver can get a lot out of a mid engine car; they usually give some warning before they loose adhesion.

    Some mid engine cars are better at this than others. If you are snap spinning, either the geometry of your set up is off, your car is badly designed to begin with, or you need some more experience in driving at the limit. I've never driven a 360, but my Europa is great for my limited skills as it will only spin if you panic and let off the throttle a LOT.

    Ken
     
  18. SimonA

    SimonA Karting

    Sep 2, 2004
    112
    Wilton, Ct.
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    Simon Adams
    Ken,

    I am not saying that a rear engined car is the same as a mid engine car. What I was trying to say is in most rear engined cars you can feel it slipping. In the modern mid engined Ferraris when you lose traction you have to be careful for there is a lot more power and that is the bigger problem. The F355 and the 360 are very well balanced but if you are unfamilar with the way powerful mid or rear engined cars react to forces of turning and accerating you will spin. And it is not that spinning is bad it is where you spin your car that makes the differnce. It is one thing to drive your sportscar fast but with both the F355 and the 360 the handling is so good that you have to really push the limits to see when it will break free. And when it does as someone has already said you just need to make the correction without thinking about what to do. The modern sportscars are so good and nicely balanced that losing control can be a terrible thing if you do not know what you are doing.

    The process of learning can be a lot of fun and of course the end result is even better for you have learned a skill that some people never will.

    Happy travels
     
  19. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
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    Wes
    I agree that Autocross is the best way to learn a car. My XJS is the most forgiving handling car you have ever seen, but I did get it to bite back on the course and woa hoooo what a ride!

    It's just that I don't want to run the F-car for my 'own purposes' while others are going full tilt on R compound tires and beating me by 2-6 seconds. There's only so much I can take.

    Wes
     
  20. atheyg

    atheyg Guest

    Vic Elford a factory Porsche 911 and 917 race driver, who also drove race Daytonas has a book on how to drive a Porsche 911 but it also applies to any rear/mid engined car, the most important part is understanding the cars balance.
     
  21. DGS

    DGS Three Time F1 World Champ
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    May 27, 2003
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    Didn't they remove the spin training requirement for private? (The theory was that if they teach you to avoid a stall, you'll never spin. Yah, right. They've never pushed a Tomahawk to the limits. (Twisty T-tail)) (I still got spin training on my license. Did you know that the doors on a 172 can pop open in an extreme spin?)


    Having run a Fiat 124 in the dirt, I found the 328 pretty controllable in "side slips" -- provided you're paying attention.

    My "hall of shame" on the 328 was getting stuck behind one of those self-appointed hall monitors -- the kind that figure that if they don't enjoy driving, neither should anyone else. Sure 'nuff, after plodding down the road, creeping through some otherwise entertaining twisties, this geek waits just long enough to dash through the light as it turns yellow -- SOP in the area.

    I made the mistake of getting annoyed. I gunned it and made the turn -- but it the road was damp (the kind of light mist that just lifts the oil out of the pavement), and my tires were cold from following zippy the wonder slug.

    Textbook power oversteer. I caught it, but overcorrected. Caught that and overcorrected again. Finally I just let it go around, winding up in the other (empty) lane facing the other way. I converted the spin into a U-turn, went back 30 yards and pulled into a convenience store parking lot, wearing my best Peewee Herman "I meant to do that" look on my face. ;)

    Lessons learned:
    1. You gotta keep up with the car -- "zombie cruising mode" isn't fast enough reflexes when things go sour. (Exercise for the student: Why is 55 dangerous?)
    2. Road rage is poor technique. (Compare Michael with JPM.)
     
  22. snj5

    snj5 F1 World Champ

    Feb 22, 2003
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    Yes they did remove it. Most instructors (the good ones) at least do a spin demo if not have the student recover. I always found spins more fun than stalls (which made me more nauseous than a spin oddly enough) - great training for use of the rudder. I'd always heard that about the T-hawk, but not about the 172.

    Back to our topic...
    With the Mondial 3.2, I finally understood and felt what is meant by steering with the throttle - it's amazing the balance and control harmony between the steering wheel and throttle. Now, I was on P6000s so it happened at a slower speed than the r compounds, but you really get an appreciation of how well Ferraris are set up.
     
  23. stratos

    stratos Formula Junior

    Dec 9, 2003
    637
    Switzerland
    Given a dry track a mid-engined car will understeer under acceleration at the limit and oversteer on lift-off.
    Front-engined rwd cars do the opposite.
     
  24. F1Ace

    F1Ace F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    2,963
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    Wes
    Oh, that line killed me.:p
    Wes
     
  25. ze_shark

    ze_shark Formula 3

    Jul 13, 2003
    1,273
    Switzerland (NW)
    I agree, it's very difficult to keep a 360 sideways, I don't know if the ECU alters the response of the DBW throttle, but the difference between too much and too little is damn narrow. In comparable conditions, I found a Maranello easier to control in power slides.

    I also agree that the crucial part of mid-engine cars handling dynamics (on the dry) is not acceleration but corner entry & throttle lift-off, breaking hard in the middle of an S being the trickiest. 355s don't have enough torque to unsettle the rear at corner exit (unless you really fool around), while the 360's meatier torque curve can get you there, hence the absurdly intrusive ASR in normal mode.
     
  26. Brian C. Stradale

    Brian C. Stradale F1 Rookie
    Lifetime Rossa

    Mar 17, 2002
    3,603
    Dallas, TX, USA
    True... but once you learn a light touch on the throttle, the 360 becomes quite manageable... I often get sideways and always recover (barring extenuating circumstances, like evaporating the brakes or dirt on track).


    Yep, under hard braking, you can lighten the rear more than you might expect... so the well-balanced car can be very loose when trail-braking into a corner... as long as you release the brake to recover the rear rather than braking more, its pretty easy to catch... but if there's a wall you're stepping out towards, there's a "natural tendency" to panic and brake harder... at which point, you're probably a loss.
     
  27. Kram

    Kram Formula Junior

    Jul 3, 2004
    867
    Park bench, Canada
    Full Name:
    Mark
    I hate to be the iconoclast here, but in every day driving the position of the engine in a car is less relevant to the handling than the suspension set up or the condition/pressures of the tires. If you are adding spacers at the back of the car then it sounds like your suspension might just be a bit out of whack. Spacers not only increase the track of the car but also alter the spring ratios and change the roll center of the suspension. By adding spacers just to the back you have effectively softened the rear springs, a condition that will give you understeer and thus cover any problem you might really have with toe in or bump steer at the back.
    That aside, which spins quicker, a mid engined car or something else? Well, a dumbbell with weights on either end will be slow to spin and slow to stop spinning - that is a front or rear engined car. A dumbbell with the weights (somehow) in the middle of the bar will be easier to spin and will be easier to slow down. Think of an ice skater who pulls in his or her arms to get that double axle jump, its all about a decreasing polar inertia giving a faster spin. Put another way sports cars are nimble because their central mass gives them a low polar inertia, but it doesn't make them spin, the suspension and the driver does that.
    My honest advice is to have your set up checked. I’d look for a rear suspension pick up point that has been moved in a bang with a curb - or for very old tire rubber. What ever it is, good luck!
    Kram
     
  28. LamboGuy007

    LamboGuy007 Rookie

    Mar 20, 2017
    1
    I spun my Lambo and was fortunate damage was not too bad but still very expensive to fix. Was lucky I didn't get hurt and airbag didn't get deployed or anyone else got hurt.

    I used to drive in the rain because I think it's cool and since usually there are less cars on the road but you can only go so fast before car hydroplanes and wheels are basically riding on water with zero grip.

    The car did warn me because I was accelerating really fast going straight and the car would wobble nervously left and right so when I accelerated fast while turning, you can imagine what happened afterwards. Traction control which this car has won't save you when there is no tire grip.

    Bottom line: just leave the mid-engined car home when raining and enjoy it on a dry day or night.
     

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