5 Are cars really handling that much better or is it the tires?

Over the last, say 25 years, companies have supposedly been making huge improvements in chassis and suspensions to improve handling/grip

We know tires can have a big impact on grip and road feel too though. And tires have also been improving with time.

So my question is, which has contributed the most to cars getting better and better handling/grip over the last 25 years ago? Has it been because of suspension and chassis engineering and technology getting better or does it have more to do with the tires? If it’s the tires, do you think companies are possibly fooling us into thinking they’re making rapid progress and making much better cars? Or have the cars’ engineering and tech and tires both contributed equally?

2m ago by Gogeta
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BR2+  2m ago

Take the very first generation Miata, Put Pirelli P Zero Corsa Systems on it, Then try the very newest version of todays Miata stock, And im pretty sure youll no the answer.

But we all know that as a cars overall tech level increases, So does everything else, We all know better tires give you better performance, Tires can definitely make a difference in performance, No one will argue that, But they aren't the be all to end all. In terms of overall techbology level, tire tech is behind a cars overall tech level, What with the newest tranny tech, Suspension, Traction management systems, Hell we even have bullshite self driving cars, Active aero n suspension, Road tires have come along way since 95, But overall auto tech has improved more, But tires are a part of the car and auto nology, So its basically one in the same, So its a bit moot. But i could have just as much fun in a 70s 426 as i could an M3, But again to each there own.

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SpeedKing  2m ago

No doubt both have made a substantial difference to overall handling so i reckon it's a 50/50 mix.

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FastestLaps  2m ago

Excellent question. As far as I understand, it's 3 things:

1) Much more powerful engines and better transmissions resulting in much more power to the wheels and more consistent power. This is possible mostly because of better manufacturing precision, better materials and some research also in more efficient combustion (direct injection, high pressure, well atomized fuel injection), intake (turbo, intake geometry), exhaust (exhaust flow modeling, tuning etc), electronic management etc.

2) Much more grippy tyres (better rubber compounds with more grip) and more aggressive tyre profiles and thread patterns allowed on road - performance road cars now come with tyres which could only be described as racing slicks 25 years ago)

3) Suspension geometry and shocks to suit these high grip tyres. This includes not only trick suspension parts but much stiffer main structure which is especially important when you have so much grip and power. Cars like the carbon fiber monocoque McLarens 25 years ago would be viewed as oversized formula 1 racers.

I could add #4 as better aerodynamics.


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Gogeta  1m ago

Can you elaborate on #3 a bit more? why exactly is stiffer suspension and structure important when you have high grip tires? how do high grip tires effect the car if it doesnt have a good and stiff enough suspension and structure to suit the tires?

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FastestLaps  1m ago @Gogeta

I would imagine the tyres don't work correctly (inside wheels lift off ground), handling is weird (flexy body becomes weird spring & damper).

For these older cars springs are not stiff enough (because they didn't have to be when tyres were not grippy enough) and there is too much roll (google videos of McLaren F1 driving on track, the body roll is hilarious!).

Plus there is real chance of braking the suspension or even rolling the car!

Also if you have low profile racing tyres, you probably need good, fast acting dampers to keep those tyres in contact with road. There is less "suspension" in the tyres themselves.