Nurburgring Nordschleife Speed Guide - Gran Turismo 5
By Mike Kimball
Version 3.8, March 11, 2013

                                                                              #


########
CONTENTS
########

New in this update
Foreword
Unlocking the Nordschleife
Adjust Angle of View
The Car
Game Equipment
  G25 Pedal Mod (for use with DFP/DF GT wheel)
  New PS3 System
  Video Capture
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster

Nordschleife - Step by Step
  (Includes all corner names and time splits)
  Looking Forward

AMG Academy
Ferrari F1 Seasonal - 871pp Expert Challenge
GT5 update 2.11 / GT6 Wish List
My lap milestones
Real-life lap records
How many corners are there?
Cross-training
Safety and driving philosophy
More great driver quotes

Copyright Notice
Contact The Author
Acknowledgements
Thanks for reading

==================
New in this update
==================

Version 3.8
- New FGT tune, time (4'43.1, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3Tv7q-8osk)
- Gearing for lap guide updated
- Game Equipment updates (G27; Fanatec 911 GT3 RS / CSR Elite Pedals)
- Driver Aids - my thoughts about forced SRF in Seasonals
- GT5 updates 2.09-2.11


Version 3.7
- New FGT setup, faster time (4'43.977 ABS Off)
- Spa-Francorchamps TT #46 895pp FGT tuning included for reference
- Acknowledgements updated

Version 3.6
- New FGT setup, 2nd quick time (4'44.841 ABS Off) with GT5 2.08
- Notes added to GT5 update 2.08 / GT6 Wish List
- Tweaks to the G25 Pedal Mod section
- Another big thank you (91,000 hits) for reading!

Version 3.5
- New FGT setup, new fastest time (4'44.779 ABS Off) since GT5 2.04
- Notes added to GT5 update 2.07 / GT6 Wish List
- Thanks for the continued interest (85,000 hits reached)

Version 3.4
- Crucial info about Adjust Angle of View (Multi-Monitor Options)

Version 3.3
- Ferrari F1 Seasonal - 871pp Expert Challenge
- Further tweaks in GT5 update 2.07 / GT6 Wish List


========
Foreword
========

"For a quick lap at the Nurburgring, you've probably experienced more in
seven minutes and six or seven seconds than most people have experienced
in all their lives in the way of fear, in the way of tension, in the way 
of animosity towards machinery and to a racetrack."
--Jackie Stewart, 1973

First of all, the obligatory disclaimer: Just as the game may differ from
the real life cars and tracks represented therein, so may the information
herein differ from the reader's time attack in a real car in real life.
I've made every effort to ensure the accuracy of what I've written here,
but it is up to you to verify it for yourself and I take no responsibility
for your car, your driving ability, or your interpretation of anything
written in this guide.  I'm trying to help, but ultimately it's on you.
Try not to crash.

My advice is to remember that whatever car you drive on the real
Nordschleife will probably have nowhere near the capabilities of 80%
of the cars available in GT5.  As with any track you drive for the
first time, regardless of your simulator experience, it's best to take it
very easy at first and build up your speed gradually and with much respect.
Think of your first laps in GT5 after "knowing" the track from GT4...
you probably were in for more than a few surprises (off-track excursions)...

By the time I visited the Nurburgring in late August 2007 I had turned
600 laps in GT4 and watched many different dvds of in-car footage.
This familiarity with the track layout deepened the experience for me - the
thrill is greatly increased when corners no longer all look the same and you
know what is coming up next.  Even with quite a lot of traffic we went BTG
in 8'20 (traffic-corrected, our average speed was over 90mph, and I'm fairly
certain we were going about 170 in Kesselchen).  That Zakspeed Viper was
truly amazing.  And we were blessed with an absolutely gorgeous, dry,
clear summer day.

In 2008 I spent 9 days at the Bertil Roos road racing school, including
visits to VIR, NJ Motorsports, and Pocono North.  I'm going back to drive
with them at VIR next month (April 2013).  The great thing about real,
actual racing is how much sooner you sense the car reacting to your inputs -
especially moments where the weight transfer might get you in trouble -
but the simulator practice does mean your brain already has some sense of
what to do in an unsteady moment, and helps you perceive it earlier.  Still,
when you've only driven street cars and racing simulators, driving a Formula
2000 car on a real race circuit is a revelation.  As Lewis Black has joked,
"Oh, so this is what cars are *supposed* to do."

This guide is geared for those who seek suggestions to improve their time in
GT5, and who have, at the minimum, memorized the track.  I'm quite certain
I'm not the fastest driver in the world but I hope this guide can help you
in some way, as it also helps me continue to evolve...

==========================
Unlocking the Nordschleife
==========================

A FAQ from new GT5 players was "where is the Nordschleife?"

Prior to update 1.05, you had to unlock it - so an easy way to
avoid that now would be update your game version.  However, if
some players aren't able (or willing) to update to the latest
version, read below.

To unlock the Nordschleife, complete the first two tiers of the
AMG Academy (in the Special challenges) with at least bronze times.
Note, this also involves some leveling up.  After you pass the
Beginner and Intermediate AMG levels, the Nordschleife will be
available for Practice and in Arcade mode.  More on this follows
in the section on the AMG Academy.


====================
Adjust Angle of View
====================

Crucial, possibly game-changing, sort of hidden but very important!

I actually played GT5 for over 18 months before finding this great
adjustment to the visual of the game.  Notice how whatever camera
view you choose, it may not always be right for each car, or for
your particular monitor size (or distance you sit from it)?  There
is a simple but slightly obscure way to adjust the graphics in
GT5 to your liking.  Obscure because most of us are using a single
tv/monitor and wouldn't think to look for it here:

Options > Multi-Monitor (under Hardware, far right)

Multi-Monitor Enabled Mode: Server
IP Address: (just leave it on whatever it fills in)
Monitor Layout: 1 X 1 (if you are using a single tv screen)
Monitor Frame Border: 0
Angle of Screen Curvature: 0 (I haven't started messing with this)
Adjust Angle of View: 94% (100% is the game default)

I'm well aware that cockpit view players already have the quick options
available from the pause screen, which switches from "wide" to "zoom"
and "extra zoom" but the above affects cockpit also, to the more subtle
degrees you might want to tweak to get it exactly right.  Having an
overall adjustment like the above which affects all camera angles
at once (even chase cam) is nice - 94% works well for any car I've driven
so far.

The trick is to balance field of view (and height) with depth perception
and peripheral vision.  You'll know when it just "feels right".
For me, I had been running the Ferrari F1 Expert Seasonal at Nurburgring
24h quite a lot, and the "helmet" cam really wasn't the right
perspective until I decreased the angle of view (bringing the camera
closer to the nose), which took some getting used to initially but
only took a small amount of practice to get to where I was actually
quicker than before.  What's really awesome is the heightened sense
of immersion - the circuit seems more like an Armco tunnel, corners
are sharper, apexes are easier to hit, awkward corners seem more natural,
and the sensation of speed is much better.


=======
The Car
=======

Formula Gran Turismo
--------------------
What can I say about the FGT? It's by far my favorite car to drive
even though it sometimes causes frustration, game rage, agony...
Like Top Gear says about Alfas, it's the roller coaster of emotions
that makes those really amazing moments so spectacular.

The car is quite agile, but unstable, and extremely sensitive to
throttle inputs, steering, and braking, which can easily become
jumbled and get the car all crossed up.  It requires a completely
different driving style, something like a normal car in the wet -
early and careful inputs with your utmost smoothness. Many dramatic
maneuvers require little more than a tiny lift.  

It's important to remember that this car handles well enough on
any other circuit - but the Nordschleife is special.  The reality
is that F1 stopped racing the Nordschleife after 1976, and sports
prototypes also after 1983, and neither has been engineered with
the Nordschleife in mind since then.  The speeds you can achieve
in modern race cars are far above speeds that were ever intended
to be reached on a bumpy, tight, ridiculously dangerous and
complicated circuit like the Nordschleife.  Astoundingly, I have
even seen current F1 drivers admit that they hardly know the
'Ring, or flat out refuse to drive on it specifically because it
is currently too bumpy and dangerous.

SETUP SPECS
-----------
[singing] B... A... L... A... N... C... E... Balance.

Most setup changes come with certain negative side effects that you must
recognize and learn to live with.  I'm continually learning the various
ways seemingly harmless tweaks can result in mysterious instances of
erratic behavior - remember, at the Nurburgring the track surface changes
everything, and random bumps can easily catch your car out as much as
you (since bumps can affect one side of the car or one tire at a time,
so the other side that's still touching the ground may suddenly do
something unexpected).  The more you can attribute a crash to a specific
cause (either a mistake or a setup problem), the less frustrating it is.
And as we know, it takes only a slightly incorrect setup on the Formula
GT to make it almost undriveable, and you can chase your tail endlessly
trying to muck about with the interrelated puzzle of tuning adjustments.

Ride Height Note: I am not sure the ride height trick works anymore
(higher nose - faster to top speed).  The handling balance is certainly
affected, but when I compared 3/-2 to 0/6, not much advantage that 
I could attribute purely to that.  0/6 definitely feels more stable but
not quite right either... it got me to a 4'43.9 though.

  GT5 2.08 FGT setup 1 (4'43.133, G27, GT5 2.11)
  Aero: 70, 88
  Transmission: (Set final max, top speed min, then:)
  1st 5.300  2nd 3.932  3rd 3.058  4th 2.572  5th 2.228  6th 1.950
  7th 1.704  Final 3.317
  LSD: 8, 42, 16
  Suspension: springs 18.9, 19.0; dampers ex 8 8, com 8 8, a-r 6 6
  Ride height: 3, -2
  Camber: 2.2, 1.1; Toe -0.24, 0.28
  Brakes: 4, 2 (ABS OFF)

  GT5 2.08 FGT setup 2 (soft but fast, 4'43.977)
  Aero: 70, 88
  Transmission: (Set final full right, top speed full left, then:)
  1st 5.300  2nd 3.932  3rd 3.134  4th 2.622  5th 2.233  6th 1.947
  7th 1.700  Final 3.317
  LSD: 6, 33, 12
  Suspension: springs 15.8, 16.0; dampers ex 8 8, com 6 6, a-r 5 7
  Ride height: 8, 3
  Camber: 2.0, 1.0; Toe -0.28, 0.28
  Brakes: 4, 2 (ABS OFF)

  GT5 2.08 FGT setup 3 (agile, achieved 4'44.841 in 2.08)
  Aero: 70, 89
  Transmission: 236mph (380kph), 2nd 4.408, 7th 1.339
  LSD: 8, 34, 12
  Suspension: springs 19.0, 19.1; dampers r 8, c 8 (f and r), a-r 6
  Alignment: 2.2, 1.1, 0.0, 0.12
  Brakes: 5, 4 (ABS OFF)

  GT5 2.08 FGT setup 4 (895pp Spa TT 46, RH tires)
  Aero: 70, 85
  Transmission: (Set final full right, top speed full left, then:)
  1st 5.300  2nd 3.932  3rd 3.124  4th 2.622  5th 2.233  6th 1.947
  7th 1.722  Final 3.317
  LSD: 5, 28, 5
  Suspension: springs 15.4, 15.6; dampers ex 5 5, com 5 5, a-r 4 7
  Ride height: 8, 3
  Camber: 2.1, 1.0; Toe -0.30, 0.28
  Brakes: 4, 2 (ABS OFF)
  Ballast: 22kg, -50 (572kg)
  Power: 99.9% (934hp)

FGT Times - Different Tires
---------------------------
It's really fun to try out different tire compounds especially if you are
looking for a way to make the A-Spec races more challenging.  To be real,
the game shouldn't even let you put comfort tires on any race car, since
comfort tires often wouldn't fit and also aren't rated for the kinds
of speeds race cars go (my car's tires are only W rated, so about
168mph (270kph) top speed before they shred themselves apart; but the
highest speed rating for an off-the-rack road tire is Y, and that's
still only 186mph (300kph)).  But it's a cool way to experience the
reduced grip of a road tire anyway.

I haven't had as easy a time using different tires on this car - it seems
to be balanced enough on either Comfort tires or Racing tires, but to my
dismay it has been a struggle to get the most from the Sports tires.
Sports Mediums gave me a lot of possible 4'47 laps that resulted in
crashes, and the dreaded phrase "changing balance" came to mind often.
I kind of think it's irrelevant - the FGT has so much aero and other
characteristics that the tires make little difference between compounds,
so if you want a challenge you might as well really nerf them (find
the compound that has the best balance for you).  Here are some
reference times for the Nordschleife (no special tweaks on the car)...

FGT Comfort Hard: 4'56.406
FGT Comfort Medi: 4'53.132
FGT Comfort Soft: 4'51.917
FGT Sports Hards: 4'49.860

Actually since running these times with ABS on 1, I went again on
CH tires with ABS off and was actually faster, made a 4'55.755. I also
made a 4'55.716 with a completely stock FGT (891hp, RH tires, no
tuning tweaks, no driver aids, ABS off).

While you're at it, make sure you also try running all the FormulaGT
A-Spec races on Comfort Hard tires - I've tried all six and you can
still easily win, and in a way it's a different thrill, even though
your lap times are a few seconds slower.


NASCAR (My Newfound Respect)
----------------------------
I know what you're thinking, something like "WTH does a NASCAR stock car
have to do with the Nordschleife?"  How about 5'59, sound good? I am
simply astonished at how well the 2011 Ford Fusion #99 handles when
you consider that it weighs 3400 pounds.  Further, I noticed that NASCAR
takes a driving style not unlike what I use for the Formula GT. Anytime
I race a stock car at the Nurburgring, I always seem to enjoy it, and
I'll replay the race over and over.  And however you feel about Carl
Edwards as a driver, GT5 sure made his car sound awesome.

It was nice finally beating six minutes... and I can honestly say
that after the Formula Gran Turismo, the NASCAR Fusion is my next
favorite car to drive on the Nordschleife.

I already know that they test at a track very dear to my own racing
heart (VIR), so how cool might it be if they brought a stock car over
to the hallowed Nurburgring to see what's what?  As long as you are
careful with the weight and remember not to put all the power down
too aggressively on corner exits, you'll stay out of the Armco.

Here's my general tuning setup for stock cars - it's similar to
touring cars, but accounts for higher power and top speed, and
heavier weight:
Aero: 50, 65 (max, -5 on rear max)
Transmission: 224mph (ratios: 2.372, 1.672, 1.236, 0.970)
LSD: 5 34 10
Suspension: 0, 20, 10, 8, 7 (front and rear)
Alignment: camber - 2.2, 1.0; toe - 0.0, 0.0
Brakes: 3, 7 (3, 3 if ABS off)
Tires: Racing Soft

Personal best (practice, GT5 2.05): 5'59.541
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cn7So0adts0

NASCAR Times - Different Tires
------------------------------
This was much easier to test - big differences all the way up and
the handling characteristics were roughly the same, just more or
less grip to work with.  Here are my Nordschleife reference times,
again without any special tweaks on the car, which I did in one
or two laps...

Fusion #99 Comfort Hard: 7'58.040
Fusion #99 Comfort Medi: 7'34.417
Fusion #99 Comfort Soft: 7'11.924
Fusion #99 Sports Hards: 6'56.483
Fusion #99 Sports Mediu: 6'40.854
Fusion #99 Sports Softs: 6'25.586
Fusion #99 Racing Hards: 6'15.421
Fusion #99 Racing Mediu: 6'07.479
Fusion #99 Racing Softs: 6'00.262


Ferrari F1
----------
There are two Ferrari F1 cars (F2007 and F10) - I have driven both a
little.  Lots of downforce, but not so much power.  It's nice when a
car doesn't feel like it's forever plotting new ways to stuff you
into the Armco.  The F10 feels slower and a bit awkward... you can see
from the suspension geometry and the camber settings, kind of extreme
compared to most any other car... I'm still developing a setup of my
own for the F10 - so far it's balanced and quick at Tokyo. One thing I
don't particularly like is the camera angles - with no proper hood
camera, I must use the helmet cam (which is a bit too high and far
back, but now that I finally use a proper wide-aspect flat screen, this
is less annoying).  It's silly to have to look at a steering wheel
on the screen when I already have one in my hands - and the one on
the screen only turns half as much, too, which is distracting.

F2007 Setup:
Aero 150, 196
Trans 211
LSD 6 33 12
Susp 20 10 8 7 (front and rear)
Align 2.0 1.0 0.0 0.30
Brakes 4 4
Driving aids: all off except ABS 1

Personal best (practice): 4'42.914


Red Bull X2010
--------------
This has now been a gift car, so the exclusivity of beating the Sebastian
Vettel Challenge to get it is gone.  I'm a little disappointed in the
handling changes they added recently (especially the dead spot), it
doesn't react with the same speed and precision so I stopped driving it.

But, it's still crazy fast, and the X2011 is even faster (if you're willing
to cut corners and mow grass a lot it will do the 'Ring in just above
three minutes).


Group C / LMP
-------------
Again among my favorites, the Group C and Le Mans Prototypes are amazing
machines to drive.  There's really nothing like thrashing the Mulsanne
straight with no chicanes at over 248mph (400kph).  These cars are not
easy to handle sometimes - they have that in common with formula cars in
that they are lightweight and very powerful.  But they are incredible
to drive on the Nurburgring.  So far I don't have a consensus as far as
tuning for all of them, so I'll merely offer my Nordschleife tuning for
the Nissan R89C as a base...
Aero 60, 84; LSD 7, 40, 15; Susp 0, 13.8, 8, 8, Anti-roll 6, 7;
Align 2.0, 1.0, 0, 0; Brakes 3, 7; RS tires; 954hp.
Personal best (practice): 5'24.880 (GT5 2.03)

...and my R92CP tuning for Le Mans as another reference...
Aero 60, 85; LSD 7, 40, 16; Susp 0, 17.2/16.8, 10, 6, 7; 
Align 2.2, 1.0, 0, 0.08; Brakes 3, 7; RS tires; 986hp;
Transmission: 255mph, 2nd 2.090, 3rd 1.446, 4th 1.043, 5th 0.806.


Touring Cars
------------
Ah, touring cars - I'm quite fond of them.  Sometimes it's just so
refreshing to drive a car that has more grip than power, and stays on
the track no matter how hard you drive it, almost.  They all tend to
understeer a bit, so I have a specific setup I apply to all touring
cars (whether they be DTM or JGTC) to make them rotate more freely,
and then it's just happy time.  Give me the Xanavi GT-R or the
CLK '00 and I'll do lap after lap without feeling bored or annoyed.
Most of the touring cars can beat 6'30 around the Nordschleife, some
are under 6'15.

As for the setup: max the front aero, leave the rear around 46, put the
diff at about 6 30 12, then put the brakes toward the rear (3/7).
This depends on the layout of the car, of course - but most are FR.
If the car is MR (e.g. Audi R8 LM), try the diff at 8 36 18 or so.
With many front-heavy touring cars my LSD is set to 6 27 9.
With 4WD cars, I usually set the front LSD very high (30, 60, 60)
and the rear LSD very low (5, 25, 9) and if I can, push most
of the torque to the rear (10, 90) to help make sure it doesn't
constantly handle like a brick every time I show it a corner.
Overall between GT5's changes to the tires and possibly my dislike
for understeer, I've been making tuning adjustments more and more
for agility rather than stability.

Note, since the changes to the tires I've been digging into the
diff and rear aero more - very often I'm setting the diff to 
5 27 9, and cutting the rear aero even more for high speed corners.
I also make the springs stiffer and max the damper compression.
With that, the CLK can do a 6'22 even in traffic.  Another example
is the GT-R GT500 Stealth, I have the diff set almost to a solid
axle (5 15 5) and the rear wing trimmed almost to the same value
as the front, and the car still understeers quite a bit even with
further extremes of camber and rear toe to help the car rotate.
Somehow I doubt a real car that powerful is that prone to understeer.


The GT40s
---------
Tricky to handle, but sublime anyway - the Ford GT40s that won
Le Mans in the late 60's are among my favorite race cars in
GT5.  I particularly like the 1967 Mark IV - its handling is so
enjoyable (though one must not be careless of course, given its
MR layout) and may even be better than the Gulf GT40 from 1969
that we love.  Actually I'm very glad it handles well, given that
it cost 20 million (as does its main rival, which also handles
nicely and is fun to drive, though the 330 P4 isn't quite as
good as the Mark IV).  I really don't do anything to the setup
of the Mark IV - it feels fine the way it is - it's more of a
driving style thing.


Road Cars
---------
One's driving skill isn't really complete without spending at least
a reasonable amount of practice time in road cars (with road tires
on).  I firmly believe that, even though I lean heavily on race
cars in practice - it's what I enjoy most and has been the reason
I enjoyed Gran Turismo since GT3.  But the different handling
characteristics and required skills for road car racing with 
steering, brakes, and throttle... very often if you drive less
capable cars for a while, you may find more speed when you go
back to racing with faster race cars.

That said, I don't enjoy driving some road cars on the Nurburgring
because the so-called supercars and similar sports cars tend to
come with very soft suspensions, extremely soft dampers (set on 1),
and no way of adjusting these settings without upgrading to racing
parts.  Here's what's wrong with that - many sporty (and expensive)
cars these days come with electronics that allow you to enjoy the
best of both worlds - you can tell the car you are at a track so it
will firm things up and give you some decent supercar performance,
but the rest of the time the car settles down so you have a nice
ride for daily use.  In GT5, you only get that mushy setup that is
great for absorbing potholes, instead of the more sporty, taut
tuning that would be more suitable for getting the most from a time
attack.

I tend to lose my patience with cars that handle worse than my car
does in real life - I drive a Sentra SE-R Spec V (6-speed manual),
with Ultra High Performance tires (Conti ExtremeContact DWS), and
it is quite comfortable for daily use yet quite firm enough to
handle anything I've thrown at it short of track driving.  When I
know it will do ridiculous s-bend off ramps with huge elevation 
changes at 75mph without a peep from the tires and not missing my
intended line by an inch, I get annoyed when a 458 Italia squeals
like a little piggy as it understeers into walls at 35 on Sports
Hards.  I also find it silly that Comfort Hards cost 1200 credits
when I can replace my set of 4 UHP tires for half that.


"My Car"
--------
Naturally you will be curious how your own car will do around the
'Ring ... and I finally figured that the closest car in GT5 that
matched my daily driver would be the Focus ST, though I had to limit
the power (wish I could merely disable the turbo) to 200hp.  Also
had to add a few upgrades to match what my car has (stock, mind you),
such as a 6-speed close-ratio transmission (149mph top speed), a front
aero kit, and a sporty suspension (I know it's widely acknowledged
that GT5 is kind of unfinished, so some options like this become
inadvertently egalitarian in the game).  The Sports Hard tires feel
about right as a match for the UHP tires that came OEM on the car.
Maybe I'll go back and make sure it red lines at 7000rpm, or install
the engine upgrade if not (and then limit the power some more to get
right to that 200hp mark).

With all that, I did 8'25 comfortably around the Nordschleife, though
I'm still exploring and trying to get a 100% clean lap.  I eventually
got down to 8'21, and I think it is capable of 8'20 perhaps.


Other vehicles
--------------
Later on I'll mention how important it is to do some really slow laps
at the Nordschleife so you can fully appreciate its complexity and its
subtleties... and you won't always want merely to drive slower in a
favorite fast car.  I'm not saying all these cars are slow, but definitely
not in the 5-minute lap range... these are just some other cars that
I've enjoyed (some more frustrating than others).  Also, by request I
have added some cars at particular performance points as a rough
idea of what lap times they do (many of which I'd never driven before).
Funny how performance points don't necessarily equate in lap times...

Zonda R - 6'19.994 stock, 5'52.893 RS tires & full aero
PDI Kart - 10'20.884
Mugen Civic - 7'38.922
Ferrari F40 - 6'55.887
Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 - 8'50.555

200pp - 2CV (14hp, 511kg, CM tires, 57mph top speed): 17'03.225
235pp - Subaru 360 (14hp, CM tires, ABS off): 17'55.539
267pp - Karmann Ghia (45hp, CM tires): 11'08.260
300pp - Ford Ka (stock, tuned to 300pp): 10'18.490
350pp - VW Golf GTi '76: 9'21.105
400pp - Alpine A110 '73: 8'49.529
400pp - Ford Focus ST (200hp, SH tires): 8'21.463
450pp - NISMO Z Fairlady (tuned 450pp, SH tires): 7'55.865
450pp - Honda CR-Z TC (RH tires): 7'42.356
500pp - Aston Martin Vanquish (SH tires): 7'40.561
500pp - C-West RAZO Silvia (RH tires): 7'13.899
550pp - Ferrari 458 Italia (SH tires): 7'17.191
550pp - High Performance G37 (SS tires): 7'01.210
550pp - Corvette Race Car '63 (RH tires): 6'36.481
700pp - Peugeot 908 HDi FAP (713hp, RS tires, ABS off): 5'35.788
751pp - Suzuki ESCUDO (1050hp, RS tires, ABS off): 5'42.479


Driver Aids
-----------
I always have these turned off, especially since some of them will
actually slow you down if you're a reasonably good driver.  Traction
control can ruin full accelerating corner exits still, although in
some cars it may surprise you how long it takes to notice TC is
turned on - GT5 has improved it so the car balance is still decent.
Skid recovery is fine if you're into ambitious corner entries, but
is pretty hideous otherwise and quite annoying to deal with when
it's forced on you (license tests often don't let you turn off SRF).
I'm not always that patient with the driver aids since they are
constantly interfering (especially SRF, on some tracks/cars). As
Jeremy Clarkson would say, what I want from my throttle and brakes and
steering is a bunch of yes-men, who do exactly what I tell them to do,
when I tell them to do it.

As for ABS, I think it's acceptable to leave it on its default "1",
so braking is similar to the way it worked in GT4 - but it is quite
fun to try driving with it turned off, as some say "it's like
unlocking the true simulation mode".  With ABS off though, change
the brake balance to account for the weight of the car, drivetrain,
actual power of brakes for the car (since GT5 often gives cars
better brakes than they actually have)...  Most cars it might be
around 4/2 or 3/1. Also, throttle blips on downshifts help avoid
rear wheel lockup, at least as you downshift into 3rd and 2nd gears.
The attack of your pedal pressure is different as well of course.
I've been playing GT5 with ABS off entirely for the past few
months, even doing the license tests again that way... and not only
is it more fun once you get used to it, eventually you might find
it's equally fast (if not faster).

One final word about the recent seasonals that have Skid Recovery
Force (SRF) forced on: ridiculous!  Seriously, *how dare you force
me to use an aid that is defined as a helper for beginners*?
The recent DTC Seasonal having SRF forced on is sad.  Then again,
two of the events are the same as the ones in A-Spec, so you can
enjoy them SRF-free there. What really killed me was the
'refurbished' Real Circuit Tours, without the Nurburgring 24h
(my favorite Seasonal which I replayed endlessly), with forced SRF.

To be honest, SRF forced on was sort of the last straw for me,
I just couldn't bear any more of my primary game giving me so much
profound disappointment (more on that below in the GT5 update 2.11
/ GT6 Wish List section).  I ended up buying an xbox 360 and Forza
Motorsport 4 to see what I've been missing (things like accurate
engine sounds for starters).


Tires
-----
Tire snobbery aside, different compounds are fun to try out, even
ones that don't apply to the car you're driving.  Since we don't have
the greatest AI, nerfing the tires may be the only real way you can
make the A-Spec races more challenging.  All of the FormulaGT races
can easily be beaten with Comfort Hards on, for instance - but then
the Formula car has so much performance (aero, low weight, etc) that
it does a lot to cancel the reduced grip.  On most other cars, the 
difference in grip between the compounds is much more of a factor,
so sometimes you try Comfort Hards and it's like driving on ice. But,
most cars handle acceptably with Comfort Softs, so that is a good
starting place for experimenting with low grip.

The main thing you'll notice is that the mind set of driving on
comfort or sports tires is different - more "realistic" if you like -
but basically it boils down to lesser lateral loading, longer braking
distances, more prone to power oversteer as well as understeer, less
forgiving of bad technique in some instances but slower to react and
therefore more forgiving in other corner phases.  What I like is the
sense of balance, along with generally demanding cleaner driving
technique.  I also like how it seems easier to rotate the car
with subtle throttle adjustments, again something pleasingly
realistic from my experience in karts and formula 2000 cars.
But I also get impatient after a while with how long it takes
for the car to respond to my inputs.


==============
Game Equipment
==============

My current setup:
G27 wheel and pedals
DFP wheel, DFGT wheel, G25 pedals (modified)
Fanatec Porsche 911 GT3 RS V2 wheel*, CSR Elite pedals
Sparco cockpit (modified) with a Sienna seat
LG 5.1 surround sound with subwoofer
Cheap RCA 40" LCD flat-panel (HDMI)

A driving cockpit and a 900-degree wheel will certainly improve your
game dramatically.  Just the immersion alone will be worth it regardless,
being able to adjust the seat, pedals, and wheel to the exact positions
you desire, and having a completely stable base to minimize any slop
from the body.

I have a new G27 wheel which I bought at a great price now that Logitech
have ceased its production (with news that they will no longer make
gaming  peripherals?).  It reminds me a lot of the G25 actually, there
is less rigidity than the plastic wheels somehow, even the feedback is
slightly rubbery despite its top of the line dual mechanism.  It seems
to make cars want to slide and/or oversteer more than the DFGT did...
but that can be useful and you can adjust the tuning accordingly also.
I think I'm pushing the brake harder also since now it is higher than
the throttle and I use my left foot, so the travel I'm used to is now
a bit too much.

Fanatec gear is adjustable, so I crank the throttle spring as tight as
it goes since the pedal is way too light, but the board is nicely
balanced and the load cell brake feels great.  As for the wheel, here are
my settings (FF in GT5 on 10):

Sens  900
FF    60  (wheel is quite heavy so extra FF not needed)
Shock 100 (still feel kerbs/bumps are too light)
Drift 2   (easier to countersteer and "feel" rear of car)
ABS   off (pedals don't support)
Lin   off
Spr   -3  (again, heavy wheel, less force needed from motors)
Dmp   2   (again, heavy wheel so faster helps)

I do have a second preset where I'm playing with a much shorter steering
angle combined with some linearity, but so far it feels a bit strange.
I think at the moment it's around 680 with 10% linearity.

I still use the Logitech wheels at the moment because I didn't really like
the Fanatec wheel in GT5, it seems like the belt drive reacts too slow
in some cars and you end up in a tankslapper out of nowhere because you
are trying to read the wheel's feedback.  Surprisingly, the old DFP wheel
still works nicely in GT5, although it is much stiffer than you may
be used to, so it takes some practice.

To preserve the life of your wheel, it's very important to get the tilt
angle of the wheel (and/or your chair) correct, so that as you turn it,
you don't tend to pull it or push it.

One enduring accessory in the DF wheels is the plastic pedals, which are
amazingly unimproved.  The G25 pedals are much better, but they aren't
compatible with the DFP/DF GT wheels without rewiring. You could also find
an adapter to join them up - I would suggest trying that first.

G25 Pedal Mod (for use with DF wheels)
--------------------------------------

  The following advice will almost certainly void your warranty, so read on
  only if you don't mind that, and also, don't attempt this unless you are
  fairly good with small electronics and are not taking chances with your
  only game equipment.  I take no responsibility if your workmanship is not
  successful.  This is just my notes on what I did to get mine to work.
  Again, I've since seen adapters online that can accommodate this so
  you may want to try that first.

To make the G25 pedals work with the DF wheels takes some rewiring, mainly
because the G25 brake wiring is backwards.  I went to Radio Shack to get
some wiring and connectors. This also requires some tools (a wire stripper,
and a Phillips screwdriver).  I also went to Home Depot for some sticky
Velcro (this is how I fasten the board so that I can get a better adjustment
on the seat, wheel, and pedal board positions).

Basically what I did is take the wiring out of one of my DFP pedal boards,
then bring it with me to buy wiring and connectors that are small enough
to adapt to it.  You'll only need to add a few inches to the length of
three of the single wires (for the brake pedal) due to the differing
physical layout of the pedal potentiometers, and if you want to put the
brake where the clutch is, like I did.  Playseat makes cool pedal plates
that connect the brake and clutch together (making a very heavy brake
I would think), you might want to try that out sometime also.

On the wiring of the pots, you'll see that both pedals have a red and a
black wire on the left and right, plus a third middle wire which is either
white or green.  Here are the configurations that work with the DFP wheel:

DFP pedals original wiring (left to right - connectors on bottom):
  Throttle - single black, green, single red
  Brake - double black, white, double red

G25 pedals (again l-r connectors, right is nearest the red pedal pistons):
  Throttle - double black, white, double red
  Brake - *single red*, green, *single black*

Video illustrating the pedals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuRKmcp5Nvw

Also, judicious use of electrical tape since the wires aren't grounded like
they are on the wiring loom of the G25 - cover any protruding metal where the
wire could touch; and with cutting/stripping/crimping, make it as clean as
possible.  The smallest wiring and connectors I could find were still a bit
larger than the existing, but I found with some bending I could get a nice
snug fit.  I haven't had any problems in two years of use, though I did
decide the brake pedal is a bit too stiff, so I switched it with the clutch
pedal (and also, I put this all the way on the left, so there's an empty
space in the middle; this way I don't hit my knees on the underside of the
steering wheel clamps).  Finally, to make the Sparco cockpit accommodate the
pedals and the reclined position, I had to turn the foot panel upside down
and use a great amount of industrial strength sticky velcro... which is nice
because it holds perfectly but is still adjustable.

Sparco Cockpit
--------------

Yes, I still use the original one, though the seat has just about had it.
The right side now sags not only in the bottom but the back as well, 
which I suspect is partially at fault (along with the Ferrari F1 Seasonal)
for the tennis elbow I'm dealing with in my left arm.  Anyway, I've been
considering replacements such as the Fanatec or Playseat cockpits, but
since it will probably mean replacing my wheel also, it's something I'm
going to have to plan for a while longer.  Ideally the F1 Playseat with
the CSRE or ClubSport wheel...



New PS3 System
--------------

Eventually I had problems with my 60GB PS3 disc drive (shocker), and even
after about a dozen attempts to disassemble, clean, reassemble, the thing
refused to work.  It was getting to be a power hog and a noisy, heavy
thing that tended to overheat anyway... so I got a 320GB PS3 and followed
the instructions online on how to transfer all of your data, which worked
perfectly.

One catch - if you didn't export your saved replays, you lose the ability
to view them in the Replay Theater.  NOTE: you don't lose them entirely -
if you go to the track where you set a lap, you do have access to your
saved ghost replays to load and race against. So they are all in there
somewhere, it's just the game that essentially limits your access to
them.  I hope this is something PDI will fix eventually - obviously if
it can load your old ghost replays in practice, it should be able to find
them in Replay Theater as well.


Video Capture
-------------

Initially when I put replays on youtube I was using a dvd recorder from
Panasonic.  It was acceptable at first, if you don't mind a lot of pixel
artifacts and 4:3 aspect ratio.  Also the cumbersome process of hooking
up all the wires (and changing the PS3 to use composite video out), recording
and finalizing the dvd, then uploading that to youtube.  The process was
lossy in three stages, so it was amazing that I still got something somewhat
legible at the end.

HD capture is much better if you have the gear for it - I got the Hauppauge
HD PVR, and I happened to have an hp laptop that met its system requirements.
Also, you may need a PS3 component cable (Best Buy has these, they aren't
expensive) so that you get the three video cables (RGB) plus two for audio.
The equipment is simple enough to set up and install - the important thing
is to get the capture settings right since it's easy to end up with a video
that plays out of sync with the audio, if you try viewing at 720p or 1080p
(this especially happens if you upload a file captured in 1080i - youtube
specifically advises not to use interlaced video).

Seems like the recommended HD capture settings for uploading to youtube is
1280x720 resolution, 59.94fps frame rate (60), max the bitrate to 13.5 or
better, then set the bit rate to constant (not variable) so you get reliable
quality. Also, disable the option for preview on recording although this can
be a little disconcerting not seeing what the computer is capturing.

Getting the 720p quality can be done by starting with that from your PS3 in
the Display Settings, or you can capture at 1080 and convert it down with your
video editing software.

YouTube seems to accept the AVCHD format files, but they take a little longer
to process so that the 720p quality is available.  If you convert the file to
one of the supported formats before uploading, it will speed the processing,
but it takes as long to convert before uploading as it does for YouTube to do
it - your call.


==========================================
Driving Tips That Have Helped Me Go Faster
==========================================

"The exit of the corner is much more important than the entry to the corner,
with regards to smoothness.  And another thing is that you never put your
foot on the gas until you're sure you won't have to take it back off."
- Sir Jackie Stewart OBE

First, always bear in mind that as you improve in one section, it changes
your rhythm into the next, and so on.  All it takes is time, practice, and
gradual improvements in your knowledge of the car and the track. Very often
when you are pushing your limit and going off the track, getting frustrated,
feeling like quitting... you are actually on the verge of making a huge
improvement.  So remember it's all part of the process of training your
brain and your muscle memory.  Take a rest, come back a few hours or a day
later, and you'll be surprised how easy it suddenly gets.  It was often
the same way when I was learning to play guitar.

Next, if you want to improve your lap time, it is crucial to consider the
importance of corner exits over late braking.  Obviously I brake as late
as I can, but braking later improves time in hundredths of a second, while
getting on the throttle earlier for the exit improves your time in tenths.
Remember that the reverse is also true - braking too early loses time in
hundredths, but braking too late and then getting on the throttle late
loses time in tenths, and if you don't recover the car quickly enough from
the mistake, you're losing seconds.

What this means is you should work backward - get the exit point right first,
then try to improve your entry, then finally polish your braking point.
The correct braking point goes hand in hand with the correct turn-in and 
throttle point however - braking too early often invites turning too early,
which can lead to going off the track at the exit; while braking too
late means you waste a lot of time going past the ideal turn-in and in some
corners you may not make the turn at all.  The simplest thing I try to remember
is that the lap time is essentially the sum of throttle and braking, and the
finish line is a finite point, so whatever gets me there earlier is good,
and I want to avoid doing anything that makes the lap longer by adding more
time braking, coasting, feathering, or otherwise not on full throttle.

"Work backward" also applies to figuring out the best line to take through
corner complexes: the idea is that the last corner usually needs the best
exit, so the preceding corners require adjusted lines to accommodate
this prioritization.  Usually this means turning much later for the
first corner in a complex in order to set up a corner going the opposite
direction.  The line you choose for any corner is always a compromise
between shortest distance and highest speed, and corner complexes are
often approached by choosing a shorter distance for initial corners
so that you can have maximum speed exiting the final corner.

Essentially the ideal that we want to work toward (though we may not always
achieve it) is the Bertil Roos idea of Full Throttle, Full Brake, Full Time.
What this means is you are working toward an ideal that you know the track
and your car so well, that you only use either full throttle, or full brake,
but nothing else.  Again, this is an IDEAL - it doesn't mean we ignore our
techniques of light braking, feathering the throttle, line recovery, etc when
we get in trouble or when certain track areas require it.  There probably are
tracks where FT/FB/FT is possible, but I don't think the 'Ring is one of them.
Here, you just try to reach that ideal in sections that are smooth enough to
allow it.

Another valuable piece of advice is from Petter Solberg: "You have to try to
be very neat, no attack, because as soon as you try to push harder, you go
slower.  So just keep it neat and steady."  Professor Nakaya seems to concur,
that in some situations the driver's attempt to push harder will be useless
since it only increases the steering angle as well as the friction of the
wheels on the pavement, which cancels out or even negates any increase the
driver desires to make. Again, aggressive driving is often useful in racing,
but for time attack you want to be as smooth as possible, and in some corners
you just want to maintain revs but apply only enough throttle to get the right
balance.

The book "Winning" had some interesting advice also - basically that you
should not feel "comfortable" while racing - you should be going at the limit
and often fighting for grip on every corner.  What I've found is on many
corners you want to go for a certain amount of slip to get the optimum exit
and full acceleration.  This will of course make it difficult to control
wheel spin as well as keeping the rear from sliding around as you try to
steer your way out.  Another way to put it, sometimes your steering may feel
sloppy or busy as you try to manage the low traction situation known as 
maximum acceleration.  There's a practical limit for every car, and then
there's the real limit if you're able to push into the slip angle just the
right amount.  But the closer you get to the limit, the more risky it
becomes and the smaller a mistake needs to be to exceed the limit.  As Senna
might say, this place makes you very fragile and it can all be gone in an
instant; yet you must go for it.  But even if you have Senna's car control
skills, you don't want to push the slip angle too far - the threshold of
optimum speed is not a very big slip angle, beyond it you start slowing
yourself down again.

Undulating corners are all over the place at Nordschleife, but they are not
as friendly and predictable as a track like Suzuka, so you will need to think
about how weight transfer affects braking and throttle as your car alternates
quickly between understeer and oversteer, often in the same corner - not easy
to do in a video game, where the vertical changes aren't always visually
obvious.  Thankfully, PS3 games seem to have improved this dramatically over
the way most of them were on the PS2.  If you find spots where you tend to
spin out even with steady throttle and steering input, an undulation may be
the cause. In some cases it can also be crowned pavement but this is the
same thing, just laterally.

In GT5 the thing I find myself thinking about most is how the car handling
is basically all about finding balance - the brain is always trying to make
sense of the "actions have equal and opposite reactions" principle, and the
fact that you're always essentially riding on a bunch of springs and rubber
bands that are constantly having different ripples of force tossed at them.
Since you can't actually feel your body and 2000-odd pounds of steel being
shifted around, you have to commit to memory and learn to anticipate what
these actions and reactions are going to do.

Once you feel really dialed in after many laps of practice, you'll start to
experience feeling like it's just basic flowing lines, using as smooth and
steady inputs as you can manage, adjusting the acceleration for the shape of
each corner.  (I can hear Bruce Lee saying "Don't think!  Feeeeeeeel...")
Your mind is clear and calm because your body is just nailing each section.
When you feel it, it is magic.  Sometimes you will start to go beyond your
conscious knowledge - the kind of realm that scared the hell out of Senna
at Monaco one year and yet he searched for but never quite experienced
again.  Many times I'll set a record for myself when I'm not merely
trying not to overthink it, but not even really understanding exactly
what I'm doing to go so much faster - you just get in the zone both
mentally and physically, and with a bit of luck you manage to put it all
together.

Ok, now it's time to take a lap around the track!

===========================
Nordschleife - Step by Step
===========================

Track graffiti: the graffiti has changed a bit in GT5, so frequently
I look at the kerbs - front edges for braking points, back edges for turn
in points, etc.  There is still graffiti in some particular spots though,
so learn where this is - usually it marks particularly difficult corners
where you need to know the last possible spot to brake or turn in.

Again, the gearing is for the Formula Gran Turismo.  I have not yet changed
the gearing for the latest transmission, partially because I need more time
with it and partially because it only took a few laps to figure out where
I should be in one gear lower than usual... it is fairly easy to feel out.


T13 (grandstand section)
------------------------

4th - Brake-3-2 - left - 3-4 - right bend - 5-6 - right - 7th - left bend

Right off the bat, the right to T13 is slippery - it's easy to mess up and 
go wide left into the grass, or spin into the wall on the right.  And the
first left is a doozy as well.  You wouldn't believe how easily your lap
can be over before it even starts.

If you got a good exit from the final right turn of Hohenrain, you should be
coming toward the start/finish straight accelerating and tracking to the right
side. Because it's downhill, it's easy to miss the apex here.

Flat out into the second right, anticipate an early turn in and squeeze out of
the wheel a bit on the exit (most other cars won't do this flat - one gear
change down).  7th gear before you brake for the next section.

Hatzenbach (Hatzen Brook)
-------------------------

Brake-6-5-left-4-3 - double right - 4th - left - 5th - 4-3-right-left - 4th

I have started taking the left while downshifting all the way so I can 
throttle earlier through the right; I think it also keeps the rear end a bit
more stable.  Aim for the next left about where the path is, throttle through,
gentle for the right to set up a really good exit for the left, only a tiny
lift should get the car to change directions.  Exit wide and track left
to the next section.

Hocheichen (Great Oaks)
-----------------------

Brake-3rd - right - careful throttle - left - short 4th - 5-6

I've become familiar with all sorts of ways to crash here in GT5... amazing
how you usually hit the nice new shiny sections of the Armco ;)

As you approach the first right, brake fairly early, turn in and give it some
gas toward the crest; this spot needs a very delicate touch on the throttle
to avoid spinning as the road drops under you, and the camber for the left
also does strange things.  It's almost a mini corkscrew.

If I make it this far without crashing the Formula Gran Turismo, I'm relieved,
since it's easy to blow timed laps anywhere in Hatzenbach or Hochichen.  So
many difficult turns in just the first 26 seconds.

Quiddelbacher Hohe (Quiddelbach Height)
---------------------------------------
T1 (FGT can do 30.1)

Flat - over crest - right - 7th

This section is flat out but bumpy, stick to the basics and you should be
fine up to the brutal crest at the start of the next section.

Flugplatz (Airfield, literally "Flying Place")
----------------------------------------------

Flat - over crest - settle - double right - left - left

Not to be underestimated.

Go over the left center of the crest as straight as you can and stay on
the throttle.  You should have a beat to let the car settle before
heading into the double-apex right-hander.  This corner is easy to get
wrong going flat out at this speed, but this is all flat in 7th gear if you
take it smoothly enough.  Barely touch the first apex, and you should
come around the second one in a single arc.  Keep going flat out into the
next section.

Schwedenkreuz (Swedish Cross)
-----------------------------

Flat - left - crest - careful long bumpy left - still flat

This is all flat out, in 7th gear.  Go over the crest near the middle or
slightly right but go as straight as possible.  The next long left is totally
flat, but you need to be very gentle with the turn in, and there is a bump
about half-way through that can be unsettling.  Also, try not to touch the
inside kerb which tends to throw off your balance.  Try to make the car
track slightly left of center as you get ready to brake hard and downshift
into the next section.

Aremberg
--------
T2 (FGT can do 52.6)

BRAKE-6-5-4-3 - long right - flat on exit

It's important for your time to get a good exit here so concentrate on your
braking point and get a good line. I usually start braking just where the edge
of the kerb ends on the left.  This is a somewhat long right-hander so
throttle control is important. Try to get a straight line for good
acceleration on the exit toward the bridge.  You can take a lot of kerb
on the exit if you have to but avoid it normally.

Fuchsrohre (Foxhole or "Fox's Neck")
------------------------------------

Flat to 7th left-right-left - right - left up hill - 6th - left

Drive through the bends as straight as you can, touching each kerb, until you
approach the compression that leads up the hill to the left.  You can stay
completely flat all the way to 7th gear. As you come up the hill stay to the
right, and the left over the crest is rather delicate now, do not hit the
kerb, go as straight as you can, then quickly settle the car for the next
part. The section after the crest is extremely bumpy now, so a delicate touch
will help you to stay on the track.

Adenauer Forst (Adenau Forest)
------------------------------
T3  

5-4 - right - brake-3-2-left - left - right - exit short 3rd - flat 4th

It is really easy to screw up this bumpy, twisty section, so think ahead.

The right is pretty difficult now, easy to miss and need an extra downshift.
I'm usually trying to get the apex with a lot of understeer.  Then as the
track straightens prepare for the "newbie corner".  Avoid braking too late,
and if you can, smoothly connect the two lefts, using a line to set up
the right. Avoid the right kerb since it won't make you faster, but the
Formula car may have other ideas.  Patience and early throttle for the
right - and a good exit - will find a lot of time here.

Metzgesfeld (Metzge's Field)
----------------------------

(Flat 5-6-7) bend left-right-left-left - left - brake-6-5-4-3 - left-4th-right

Deceptively difficult left - flat if you do it perfectly, but if you miss
the apex or bump the kerb the least bit, you'll visit the big grass field
on the right.  I usually have to turn in twice, or do a quick lift-stomp.

Give extra attention to your line, carefully sweep through flat in 7th gear
then brake down to 3rd for the next left.  Watch the kerb, and it's bumpy
through here so full throttle is hard to get in between bumps and gear
changes.

Kallenhard (Kallen Forest)
--------------------------

Brake-4-3 - right - 4-5 - left

Let the car track left as you come down the hill, and you want to brake fairly
early.  The kerb on the inside right is a good reference, brake at its front
edge. Lots of understeer but apex late, get on the inside until you can see a
clear exit, then give it gas and track to the outside.  Continue flat as you
bend left and approach the next scary sections of the track.

Spiegelkurve (unofficial, "Mirror Curve")
-----------------------------------------

Flat - left-6th-right - sort out messy exit

You know, this isn't anywhere near as difficult now.  The wide line works
without too much drama now, and there is space to work with if you mess
up before the next part.  Not to be underestimated, however.


"Miss-Hit-Miss" (also Drei Rechte, "Three Rights")
--------------------------------------------------

6th - bleed revs - miss - hit - flat 6th - miss

It's the front end you have to worry about.  Very easy to understeer off.

This is another place where the turns feel like they change on you so you
don't want to be accelerating and tightening your turning arc at the same time. 
It feels like this is easier, but the tendency is to understeer after the third
right. If you get the car to the right spot on the "hit" kerb then you can keep
the throttle flat for the exit without worrying about the edge of the track too
much.  I'd leave it in 6th here, with a small lift to get the car pointed.

Wehrseifen (Resistance Valley)
------------------------------
T4 

Brake-5-4-3-right-2-left-left - 3rd - right - 4th - exit - flat 5th

This is a very slow corner where much time can be lost, so it's important
to be as accurate as possible.  Get your braking done early - focus on
making a really good exit through the left and right.  Go too deep and
you'll only be losing time.  I've gone back to swinging wider to get a
good line for the left (not as much of a single-arc double left) but
it's always tricky to get back on the power on exit as early as possible...

Breidscheid
-----------

Right bend - 6th - brake-5-4-3 - double left watch the wall - 4th

There's a concrete wall here for a reason.  Very easy to lose it here not
only by braking too late, but just generally from poor grip through the middle
of the corner - keep your rear end in check and try to be precise.

Start braking for the left somewhat early - you want to be close to the inside.
The pavement is not grippy and difficult to do with full throttle, and going
too wide makes it hard to set up the following right turn.  Get 4th on the exit
and the car will get some acceleration over the bridge to the next bit.  Line
up the car as straight as you can leading to the next right.

Ex-Muhle (Water Mill)
---------------------

Bumpy - early, light brake 3rd - minimum speed, light power - right - flat 4-5

The entry is a little less delicate than before.  The right is tricky, so
time your turning and throttle with suspension compression to make it easier;
if you are out of sync you'll find sluggish turning and wheel spin.

Approach while braking lightly and early since it gets bumpy, uphill,
and off camber - the entry will understeer so use the graffiti and turn in
somewhat early, staying tight on the apex.  Little bit of crest here so
release your arc and get good throttle on the exit, but if you go too wide
it will take a while to get back on the power.  Also be careful accelerating up
the hill - if you push too hard you can get wheel spin and possibly lose the
rear. Continue flat out into the next section.

Lauda Links
-----------

Flat 6th - left - 7th

In the Formula car there isn't much to this - stay hard on the throttle and you
should reach 7th gear after the apex, and you can keep accelerating
down the hill and track a bit off to the left before the next section.

Bergwerk (Mine, literally "Mountain Work")
------------------------------------------

Brake-6-5-4-3 - right - 4th flat - right - left

Similar to Ex-Muhle though not as delicate, this is one of the most important
corners for getting a strong exit.  This corner's odd shape and weird camber
make most attempts to brake late end in understeer followed by tracking wide
into the Armco - usually I use the Bergwerk sign on the right as a reference,
braking at or just after it.  Brake consistently to 3rd, and though this is
a late apex corner, the entry is a bit earlier than you may think because of
the uphill and the camber.  Work the throttle patiently and get a good exit.
There are also weird dips and crowns that can easily throw you off if you
don't pay attention to them.

Kesselchen (Little Valley, "Little Bottom")
-------------------------------------------
T5 

Flat left-left-left - left - right, right, right-left

Easy to underestimate this section - it is very bumpy now, and one of the
lefts is more difficult to do flat-out in most cars.  Reminds me a bit of the
four-apex left in Turkey GP, maybe they got it from here...

The Formula car easily takes this flat all the way through.  There is a series
of left bends where you should reach 7th gear.  The next right curves are quite
bumpy, which is one place where stability control can freak out and careen you
into the Armco.  After this there is a quick right-left, so try to miss-hit the
split kerbs on the right, then just touch the edge of the kerb on the left. Aim
for a straight line that will put you on the kerb up close to the Armco at the
right edge, and brace for the next section.

Mutkurve (Courage Curve, also Angstkurve, "Fear curve") 
-------------------------------------------------------
T6 

Flat 7th - double left - left

Flat or almost flat - just a very quick lift to help turn-in, or an extra yank
on the wheel.

The formula car takes this flat - I used to say "easy" but now it's just easy
to blow your lap if you get it wrong.  Make sure you use a good line, and
get tight inside for the first apex and then track toward the outside.  Another
left bend after that.

Klostertal (Convent Valley)
---------------------------

Flat 7th - left-right - crest - relaxed exit

Turn early with anticipation, and again you may need a tiny quick lift.

There's a big bump on the right here now, so you'll have to consider that
when establishing your line.  But, with the right rhythm and setup this
also isn't too difficult in the Formula Gran Turismo now.

Steilstrecke (Steep Stretch)
----------------------------

BRAKE-left-6-5-4-3-2 - double right - 3rd - exit - 4-5

Understeer - oversteer.

This tight curve is hidden by a crest that you will go over flat out, then
brake just before the kerb on the left.  This is another corner that has
a couple of apexes, and it's really slippery now also.  There are gentle
bends leading to the next section but you can easily go straight and keep
accelerating.

Karussell
---------

Brake-4-3-2 - long left - exit - 3rd - two rights flat 4-5

You can make or lose a lot of time here because of how slow and long it is.
However, I think the feel of the banking is much better here now. The main
thing is your entry - how you drop in (straight) has a lot to do with
how well you stay in.

This tight banked corner is easiest if you keep the car inside but not all the
way to the kerb, and keep the revs steady, slowly accelerating, until you
can see the exit is close, where you can give it more if your car is still in
the banking.  Pop over the last corner stone and start throttling hard toward
the next section.

Hohe Acht (High Lookout, after the hut)
---------------------------------------
T7 

6th right - left - left-brake-5-left - right - brake-4 - right - Flat 5th

You should be high in 6th gear, after exiting Karussell and passing the tricky 
left-hander flat out - before dropping to 5th for the tight left-right toward
the summit.  Be patient with the throttle and set up a good line - the rear
grip goes away as you crest so be gentle.  Brake early down to 4th for the
right and stay tight on the inside so you can be back on the throttle
hard at the apex.

Hedwigshohe (Hedwig's Height)
-----------------------------

Left - 6th - right - light brake 5th - left

Believe it or not you can take this flat in 6th if you get the right line, but
you have to keep the car steady and smooth on the steering before you tap the
brake at the exit and into 5th for the next curve.  Getting this wrong will
totally blow your balance into...

Wipperman (Seesaw Man)
----------------------

5th left - downhill right - tap brake 4th - uphill right - 5th

This spot is an easy place to lose it because of the abrupt way that it goes
downhill, and when I went to the real track we saw an accident here. This
tricky left-right gets a bit snappy and has a tendency to toss you right off
the track, so you'll find is a lot easier in the Formula if you concentrate
on keeping the car balanced.  I'm usually trying to avoid kerbs but it's
best in the formula car to take the left one (not the right one as in most
other cars).  As you approach the uphill avoid braking too late since it
will cause bumpy understeer that will probably put you on the grass as
you go over the crest.

Eschbach (Ash Brook)
--------------------

Brake-4 - double left

Understeer then oversteer.  Great gallery point at the exit...

Brake somewhat early to drop back to 4th for the downhill double left
hander, which is another part where it is easy to miss the entry and/or
lose the rear. 

Starting here there are nice white bands of graffiti to help you find good
braking points.

Brunnchen (Little Well)
-----------------------

Brake - right - 5th - brake-4-3 - right - short 4th - 5th

This is another dance between gears.  The first right hander is easy to
overcook as it is downhill, and very often you will find yourself all
the way to the left on the exit, almost into the grass.  If you can keep
just the left wheels on the kerb you will still be able to get good throttle
before the next right, again dropping to 3rd for the turn and back to
4th as the car tracks to the outside of the exit (but be especially careful
here, the sand will lose you a lot of time).  There is a certain melody
with the revs, dropping to 3rd slightly lower each time.

Eiskurve (Ice Curve)
--------------------
T8 

Brake-3rd - left - right - 4th

Tons of crowned pavement through here.  Plus camber going the wrong way.

This left-hander is again taken in 3rd, but it seems longer and goes into a
tricky right hander on the exit.  I've started braking earlier (using the white
graffiti as a braking reference - again like Wehrseifen, if you find the left
is difficult to make it means you're too deep) so I can use more throttle.  The
pavement also crowns and is really slippery (hence the name), so stay in the
middle of the pavement as you accelerate for the next section.

Pflanzgarten 1 (Plant Garden)
-----------------------------

Flat left, left, right, over crest STRAIGHT - settle-dab-5th-right-right

Try to be aggressive into the first right after the jump, since it's hard
to get very much grip after that until the big drop. Don't go wide on the
rights.  Your line here can make or lose considerable time all the way
to Schwalbenschwanz.

The wavy bends can be taken flat, sticking to the basics but ending
up slightly to the left as you go over the little jump at the bottom.  
Like other jumps, this seems less severe now, so the main trick is not to
go too wide and get caught by the grass as you dab and head into the
tricky double right.  Keep accelerating but of course be smooth as you
sweep through toward the next part.

Sprunghugel (Leap Hill)
------------------------

Short 6th - left - left - STRAIGHT over left side of drop

This first left is another easy place to mess up and not be in the right
position to track to the rumble strip on the right side of the exit.  The
slippery entry is the part that is tricky now - the drop really isn't
a problem anymore.

Pflanzgarten 2
--------------
T9 

Flat 7th - hook up with dark inside patches - right, left-right, left

This section is flat out in 7th and is much easier than in GT4 since the
car feels softer and absorbs the pavement.  Or maybe the pavement has
been resurfaced...

Schwalbenschwanz (Swallow Tail)
-------------------------------

6th - right - brake-5-4 - left - 5th

...and we're back to fighting this entry for speed.  Lift, or use 6th.

I used to do the entry flat here.  The timing is crucial and your line
needs to be very accurate in order to set up the following left, so focus,
get inside near the kerb and smoothly relax the exit.  I don't worry about
crowning since it feels like you can just use traditional lines now. Brake
quickly to 4th for the left turn-in.  5th gear briefly before the
next part.

Kleinekarussell (Little Karussell)
----------------------------------

Brake-4-3 - drop into banking left - pop out - left - flat 4-5

MUCH better than in GT4.

It's all too easy to underestimate this important corner.  But since it is
flat from here on, it's crucial to do this well.  Approach in 5th and
brake somewhat early to 4th.  Drop half the car inside and try to build
revs as you pop out over the right corner of the last paving block.
Continue through 5th, and into 6th for the approach to the next corner.

Galgenkopf (Gallow Hill)
------------------------

Dab 5th - don't touch kerbs - right-right - 6th - right - exit

Not to be underestimated, but it's easier than in GT4.  Like 3 rights, now
you can just turn in and not worry about the rear so much on the last before
the exit.

The trick is getting the first right apex - you definitely do not want to hit
the kerb as you will almost certainly bounce and crash into the Armco, but if
you go the slightest bit too wide you will not stay on the track. Try to
anticipate the kerb for the third right hander and dive in, staying flat
on the throttle and close to the inside kerb.  Normal exit.

Dottinger Hohe (Dottingen High)
-------------------------------
T10 (4'09.9 on best lap)

Flat 7th - looooong straight

Not much to this - keep it flat in 7th and stick just off center to the right.
The car should be reaching top speed as you start on the incline before the
bridge, let the car go all the way right...

Antoniusbuche (Antonius' Beech)
-------------------------------
T11 

Flat 7th - left - down hill

Turn early and ease through the left hander, totally wide open.  You will get
the T11 section time as you pass under the bridge.  Keep it flat out down the
hill...

Tiergarten (Animal Garden)
--------------------------

Flat 7th - left-right

This section near the end leads to a left-right that you can take flat out in
the Formula car, so don't lift or anything, just stick to the basics and go as
fast as you can.  Once you clear the right and are going straight, immediately
drop to 6th for the final section...

Hohenrain (Raised Boundary)
---------------------------
L1

Brake-6-5-4-left-3-2 - right-3rd-left - brake-2nd - right - 3-4

I enter this left while braking down all in one motion...

Cut to the inside left while braking into 4th, straighten and drop quickly 
for the right hander of the chicane, keeping the revs steady since this
is an easy place to spoil what might have been a stellar lap time.  I stay
off the kerbs and shift to 3rd just after the apex of the right, going
into the left with careful throttle. 

Brake and get ready for the final right-hander.  Aim for the Armco
at the apex and just miss it - don't go too wide as you make your last effort
at throttling hard up the hill to the finish.  This corner is slippery and
I've blown laps here several times.  Then cross and get your final lap time.


Looking Forward
---------------

"Every lap I do at the Nurburgring, I make a mistake.  I never go through
the Nurburgring feeling that I've achieved something in the way of 
the perfect lap."
--Jackie Stewart, 1973

Analyzing would be much easier for us if PDI had included the section
times in Replay Theater...  You almost have to write them down as you're
trying to concentrate on racing, or make some kind of mental note.  Most
of the time when I hit my best section times (especially in the first
five sections but even if I happen to notice T6 at Hohe Acht) I end
up crashing and destroying the lap.  My best laps nearly always start
with mistakes of a few tenths, which somehow allow me to forget the
timer and concentrate on each corner in the moment, putting together
a lap that amounts to a faster time than I've done before.

4'43.133: I lost a lot of time in places where I lit up the tires, and in
the first sector alone I was three tenths off my best.  I'm quite sure
a 'perfect lap' for me could be well in the 4'42 range.


===========
AMG Academy
===========

Although no longer a requirement to unlock the Nordschleife (if you update
your copy of GT5 to a version newer than 1.05 I think), this section
still stands since it is very valuable experience.

To unlock the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Practice and Arcade mode, 
complete the Beginning and Intermediate AMG Academy Special challenges
with Bronze times (fairly easy if you know the track, and even the
gold times are pretty generous if you know the track really well). Silver
will unlock the 4-hour Endurance, Gold will unlock the 24-hour (though
you will still need high driver levels to get to these).

AMG Academy is meant to teach you how to lap the Nordschleife safely,
section by section.  Each of four tiers is split into five segments - the
first four are the quarters of the track, followed by a fifth segment
which requires a full lap in traffic (complete with boneheaded-tourist
driving styles, so be alert).  Tiers 1 and 3 are in the old gull-wing
300SL, while Tiers 2 and 4 are in the new SLS AMG; tiers 1-2 are dry,
while 3-4 are wet.  I also feel that the grip seems slightly better for the
full lap than in the segments, even though the tires are supposedly the
same spec (and the higher grip shows in the lap time, which is much less
than the sum of the segments).

I love going back to the AMG Academy and practicing all of the tiers
every now and then - it's a great way to see how far you've come but
also polish your track knowledge further.  Between this and the Alaska
Snow Master rally stages, it's great for your feel for grip, car control,
and instinct for difficult corner complexes.

Cars
----
With the 300SL you have not a great deal of power and only four gears,
so my advice is rev the nuts off the thing - don't upshift until you
nearly bounce off the limiter.  As for the SLS, it's fairly grippy with
the aero and other tuning, and though it tends to understeer at times,
you have lots of power and seven gears to work with.  In either car,
I dial down the front brakes to help the rotation, and beyond that it
is mostly a balancing act that decides how to attack corners - when to
put the power down, when to shift (using high revs or low), etc.  The
shift points become especially important in the wet, since high revs
sometimes spin the tires, but so does short shifting sometimes...
I wouldn't totally avoid either method, they both can be useful even
in the wet - since both cars have big long heavy front ends, the
understeer is often countered by dropping a gear into high revs.
Finally, use the swaying motion of the car to your advantage - try to
time your inputs so that the car sways in the direction you want to go.

Tires
-----
The dry segments are on tires that are suitable for each car - sports
tires for the 300SL, racing tires on the SLS.  I'm not sure why they
selected sports softs for Beginner segment 1, but mediums for the other
segments...  As for the wet tiers, in both you will be struggling with
comfort soft tires.  In the 300SL this isn't too terrible, you just have
to be careful.  In the SLS however, comfort tires make it extremely
difficult to use any power, or brake straight, or make the much heavier
car turn - difficult enough if it were dry, but quite a nightmare in
the wet, and very dangerous when running in traffic - basically you
have no grip to work with if anything goes wrong.

Wet Racing
----------
Driving fast in the wet is not unlike driving a car with way too much power
and no grip - basically you have to think ahead a lot more and don't even
consider trying to "push harder" - you'll probably go slower, or crash.
I just try to do everything smooth and early, and remember the advice for
wet driving of "drag strips and braking zones", along with "middle-middle-
middle" somewhat.  Depends on the car, too, since the old gull-wing tends
to understeer (especially on braking) so you may actually want to use the
wet to kick out the tail slightly in some places.  In fact when I replay
the AMG Academy these days I turn off TC and set the brakes at 2/5 so they
are weaker and more toward the rear.  Mostly, just be smooth and think
way, way ahead.

Passing
-------
When overtaking slower traffic, one must try to follow the German
rule of drive-right (rechtsfahren) which means drive on the right, pass
on the left.  This principle of lane discipline means it is technically
illegal to hog the left lane, or pass on the right.  I say technically
because since this is a race track as well as a one-way toll road, and
obviously racing technique usually is pass on the inside (which could
of course be the left or right), you sometimes may find yourself having
to choose the safer of these two directives depending on the situation.
Another way to put it, if you find that the car in front has not shown
any acknowledgement that you are trying to pass, or let's say you catch
a car that has committed to the left line as you are both going to hard
braking, you may have to break the rechtsfahren rule to overtake safely.
The game won't penalize you for doing this, so do it judiciously (when
other cars hog the road, or take forever to decide where they are going).
Still, I try to practice always passing on the left.  This will
of course get more and more difficult the faster you get - if you are
going for a lap time beyond the mere gold target, you won't want to waste
time waiting for the other cars to get out of the way, and very often
they will be in the wrong place, and especially in the wet they are so
slow that you will almost always catch them off guard.  I found that it
is possible to beat the gold times for the full wet laps by over
30 seconds, but you have to be a little aggressive and pass on the
right more often.

Rewards
-------
You get a lot of experience and credits for completing the AMG Academy,
and for getting all golds in the Expert tier, the prize car is the 2003
SLR McLaren.  And I love being able to practice segments of the 'Ring, 
which really helps to polish weaker spots without going through
the entire 13 miles each time.  I really wish you could do that in
practice with different cars...

My best times:
AMG Beginner full lap (sports medium, dry): 8'28.979
AMG Intermediate full lap (racing hard, dry): 6'51.923
AMG Advanced full lap (comfort soft, wet): 9'09.943
AMG Expert full lap (comfort soft, wet): 7'59.478


============================================
Ferrari F1 Seasonal - 871pp Expert Challenge
============================================

I have to admit, this event has single-handedly restored a huge amount
of interest in the game for me.  I've run all five rounds at the 871pp
limit, and also easily won at 840pp (the first doubling of the reward
thanks to the performance difference adjustment).  Actually, I've lost
count of the number of times I've run the Nurburgring 24h round, since
I wanted to find the lowest pp I could run comfortably, which is now
742pp, with rewards well over 4.6 million (including the 200% online
bonus).  I've even found it possible to win with as little as 737pp
(or at least, ending the race with that much due to dirty oil and/or
engine wear).

With this kind of funding available, I've started buying duplicates of
every high-powered race car I can find, so that I'm able to share cars
in my online garage for friends to use.  It started with buying a second
Ford GT40 '69, and kind of went from there.

Obviously it's a little silly that you can still win the race on a
rolling start in last (12th) place, with a car that weighs 200kg more
and has 250hp less than the AI, and less downforce as well.  Even with
drafting, they will pull away on straights, yet in corners you can
destroy them.  I have definitely learned a thing or two in doing these
races over and over - and it's not just for the incredible rewards,
it's enjoyable as well.  There's a lot of strategy involved, and even
real racecraft sometimes.  You have to get over your ego and choose
the best place to overtake, which sometimes means staying behind and
trying not to spook the AI into that dumb slowdown thing, or letting
them re-pass you so you can draft them down the faster sections if
it means you'll do a faster lap time.  You'll constantly be altering
your line through corners to stay in the draft, or changing your
approach and line to get around them when they forget how to drive.

Here is the F2007 setup I use:

Aero: 92/114
Trans: 205mph, 2nd 3.555 3rd 2.638 4th 2.032 5th 1.626 6th 1.340 7th 1.138
LSD: 5 26 5
Springs 20.0, Dampers Ext 10 Comp 8
Anti-roll: 6/7
Camber: 2.0/1.0, Toe 0.0/0.20
Brakes: 3/1

Weight: 745kg (+200kg ballast, no position change)
Power: 440-450hp depending on pp to reach
Driving aids off, ABS off

Lap times: 6:55 - 6:59 

* Note, I've also run this in the F10 with pp as low as 750, the car
has the pace but nowhere near the poise and driveability of the F2007.
It actually feels downright clunky in places and is not forgiving.
Maybe other people can get more out of it... I'm not the biggest fan
of the latest generation of F1 car design.


===============================
GT5 update 2.11 / GT6 Wish List
===============================

GT5 has released more updates lately as usual, though also (as usual)
much of the major changes have had to be undone (crazy pp model, etc).
I've avoided putting too much work into keeping up with the
fiddling since I don't enjoy wasting time chasing my tail...

I don't know what we can realistically expect within further updates
in GT5 or even GT6 for that matter, especially since they are even
doing things like forcing us to use SRF in the Seasonals while calling
them "expert", which makes me genuinely worried about the future of
the game, its physics, and these issues that continue to go 
unaddressed.  But here's what I see as the major potential areas
to improve...

Audio...

One of the biggest places where GT needs improvement.  Lots of 
gestures at improving the audio in GT5 updates have merely made
some engine sounds worse or not much different, and there has been
a lot of back and forth with balancing wind noise, tire noise, and
engine noise.  Given how far off most cars sound from their real
life counterparts and how many other racing games don't have this
difficulty at least getting it close, GT might want to stop fiddling
with barely significant aspects of the audio and get serious about
making some real changes.  If they had put the effort they threw
away on making and then reversing so many changes instead into giving
us sliders where we can control the audio balance ourselves, that
would have been much more useful and well-received.

The really annoying thing is the engine noise is still pointedly in
only one speaker in many cars (it varies from left to right depending
on the car), and your car audio nearly vanishes as you pass other cars
and it can take a very long time before it comes back (like when you
have a 2 second gap).  This audio drop can be fixed by setting GT5's
audio to "Large Theater", but then the music in the menu is really
quiet which makes it difficult to judge the volume for racing.

I don't really care if 400pp road cars sound realistic but I expect
the iconic race cars to be accurate or at least convincing enough.
They nailed the Chaparral 2D and Mazda 787B, and the NASCAR Fusion
#99 sounds good as well.  I've noticed some cars actually sounded
good all the way back in GT3, so we know they are capable of good
audio if they try.  If they must make cars sound generic, at least
get the overall engine types correct - one good V8, V10, V12,
and flat 6.

Many people excuse bad audio because they say the handling is
more important - which I agree is true but I also think audio
is one third of the experience (the other two being the controls
and the graphics)... and when a car doesn't sound anything like it
should, it will end up in my garage, undriven.  GT5 already did a
good job with the handling, so if they would fix the audio then
the immersion would be absolutely fantastic.


AI...

GT5's AI is the bane of anything resembling good offline racing.
They are little more than moving chicanes that turn into parkbots
as soon as you get too close.  It's pathetic, really.

Ok, I know lately people equate lots of overtaking action with good
racing, but we should have the choice of how to approach the events.
Sure, you can always slap sports or comfort tires on to slow yourself
down and make the race more difficult, but what you're not doing
is actually honing your race craft with professional passing technique
at the car's real limit.  Instead, you find yourself practicing taking
incredible chances that in real life would be very unsafe.

Is it really too much to expect, having a few difficulty levels,
one of which would challenge even the best drivers in the game?


Car adjustments (physics)...

There are still a few tweaks that would be nice to have in GT6 with
regard to adjusting the behavior of the cars - things like steering
lock, caster, or even some kind of linearity control with the
wheel that can be individually set for each car.  And how much of a
dead zone MUST be adjustable (or at least be able to be turned OFF),
since more advanced drivers find a dead zone very annoying and it
tends to render some cars undriveable at the limit.  Luckily some
wheels allow these sorts of tweaks outside of the game, but it would
be nice in the game as well.


Events, events events...

A-Spec was just way too simplified in GT5 - no One-Make races, and
too few individual events within race series, and too few laps in
the race series (apart from Endurance).  Why call it "Extreme" and
then only make you do a third of the actual FormulaGT race distance,
with only six races instead of 15?  I understand the motivation for
getting people to race the Seasonals, but there aren't enough of
those to make up for it (and those are woefully short as well, with
5 laps per race the usual length).  Even the License Tests were too
light... and my huge gripe, why the shift away from race cars?  I
enjoyed the actual tests that make up the S License, but add more and
reclassify the test tiers so that the S license is entirely made up
of race car tests!


Tracks, tracks, tracks...

Some brilliant Original Circuits from GT3 and GT4 did not make it
to GT5, which is very sad - I would be fine with focusing on bringing
all of those back at the expense of adding a lot more cars (or even
real life circuits, though we need more of those also).  This would
include Seattle, New York, SS Route 11, Mid-Field, and Apricot Hill
to name just a few.  But I would be happy if they just put Seattle
back in, that track had everything!  If I had to name real tracks
I'd like to see, it would definitely be Brands Hatch and Road America.
VIR would also be cool, including the South Course which has a
corkscrew similar to the one at Laguna Seca.  And the Adelaide
Circuit in Australia - there is so much spectacular footage from
the 80s F1 there, and it is really a cool layout (but I'd also want
warmer lighting effects for that one, again something which GT3 had).
I can't say enough how much I would like to see Seattle return, and
maybe even similar circuits in Toronto and San Francisco (including
the Bullitt segment down Taylor Street!).


Polyphony 001...

Please bring back all the cool F1 cars from GT3 such as the F094/S,
F686/M, etc!!  We loved having two different engine models (V6 and
V10, with different sounds for each) and all the different rev
limits, fuel consumption, handling, livery, and so on.  Even if
we had PDI's own new versions of these if there are issues with
too much similarity to the real 80s F1 cars, that would be awesome!
It's really cool that GT5 included the two Ferrari F1 cars, but
there is a lot of interest in older F1, and I can only imagine how
cool it would be if like the Group C cars, the older F1 cars could
allow you to have ridiculous huge turbos that put the power up and
over 1200hp.


Graphics...

Overall GT5's graphics are excellent, but I think they should add
more lighting effects (particularly a more warm hazy feel like GT3
had). All tracks should have weather and time change.  And it would
be nice if the look and feel were a little bit gritty again. Also,
it is a little annoying when running a full grid of cars and the
screen starts breaking and doing that weird slower frame rate.

I had mentioned before about the sensation of speed, but this is
greatly affected by the camera view you choose and the angle of
view you have set, and often the 100% default makes things seem
too crisp and slow even at 200mph.  I found that by changing it
to 94% or so to get the perspective right, the sensation of
speed naturally increases since the camera view isn't as wide
and high.  I still think some improvement is possible, without
inducing motion sickness by adding "shaking" to the entire
perspective, by merely adding vibration to the car itself and not
the view of the track (which your eyes adjust to somewhat in real
life).  Of course there's only so much you can do considering
you're ultimately sitting in a motionless chair, looking at a tv
screen; and even in a real car while racing, there are certain 
aspects that your eyes adjust to and your body's movement in relation
to the car, so it's not the same as what a camera mounted to the car
would see.  But I can't stress enough that as you make the handling
more realistic and bring the lap times down to be closer to real life,
the speed sensation must be increased, to correct the slightly sterile
feel GT5 has.


Camera views...

Again, I had mentioned more consistency here between cars, but now
that I know you can use Multi-Monitor Options to adjust this, I'm
less anxious for PD to address this.  Still, would be nice.  The
incorrect perspective, width, and height of many cars' cameras
contributes a very arcadey element to the Gran Turismo experience.


Cars...

I hate to even mention more cars I'd like to see, because I think
they already spend too much time on this at the expense of other
shortcomings remaining in the series. But there are a handful of cars
that are woefully missing from the game besides the aforementioned
Formula cars from GT3.  We have Aston Martins, so why was a DBR9
not included?  A TC version of a Ruf that would be roughly equal to
the GT3 RSR or equivalent new 911 would also be nice.


Event Creator...

Lastly, I wish for the ability to select what cars I race against,
let's say in arcade mode - so if I want a field of nothing but 11
Minoltas, I could do that, or I could combine Group C cars and
Formula cars, or DTM and SuperGT, or all kinds of other
interesting battle possibilities between car classes.  Many other
games I've played had some sort of "scrimmage" mode where you could
specify each player as well as difficulty, and even previous versions
of Gran Turismo let us pick everything but the individual cars in
a single race...  We could set tires, difficulty, etc.


Replays...

Some nice features were omitted from replays in GT5 - things like the
sector time splits and also (during a race) showing a small icon of
what car was leading.  The splits are really useful on longer tracks
in order to determine sectors where you are gaining or losing time.

Another small thing but it's a bit irritating - there's a strange
lag in the indicators for throttle and brake which makes both seem
later than you actually input.  It doesn't appear while driving but
it is there in replays... the first time I filmed myself driving,
I really realized how much better it is when you can see the indicators
in correct sync with the sound and video.


=================
My lap milestones
=================

One FAQ I've been getting is "does GT5 have a way to keep track of
how many laps you have done at each circuit?"  Simple answer: no,
so I just keep a journal for setups, and any other significant info
such as best lap times.  I tally only for the Nordschleife - laps with
no crashes, no spins, no 4-wheel offs.  Which means many nights I have
spent hours there without actually adding to my lap count... only
gaining crashing experience (even at the last corner).

Feel free to skip this section if you like, it's mainly for me (and I
don't claim any "records", these are just my personal bests).

--------- GT4 --------------------------
Lap 3660: Personal record arcade, Formula Gran Turismo - 4'40.824
Lap 3672: Personal record practice, Formula Gran Turismo - 4'48.974
Lap 3887: Latest GT4 lap count
--------- GT4 --------------------------

--------- GT5 --------------------------
Lap    5: Gold (barely ;) in AMG Academy Intermediate: 7'04.998
Lap   11: Gold in AMG Academy Advanced (wet): 9'33.458
Lap   18: Personal best, GT-R (arcade, defaults) - 7'25.439 (trophy)
Lap   24: Gold in AMG Academy Expert (wet): 8'22.332
Lap   50: Red Bull X1 S. Vettel (RH, stock): 3'43.222
Lap   89: Formula Gran Turismo Nordschleife: 4'56.251
Lap  500: Red Bull X1, 4hr Nurburgring Type V best lap: 4'12.220
Lap  734: Finished 24hr Nurburgring A-Spec (Gold Standard Trophy)
Lap  743: Red Bull X2010 Vettel Nordschleife: 3'21.318
Lap 1003: Ferrari F2007 Nordschleife: 4'47.432
Lap 1103: Ford Mark IV Nordschleife: 6'08.601
Lap 1119: Combined Gran Turismo Nordschleife laps (GT4/GT5): 5000
Lap 1153: Mazda 787B, Nurburgring 24h: 7'00.630
Lap 1165: McLaren F1 GTR, Nurburgring 24h: 7'20.185
Lap 1275: Formula GT Nurburgring 24h 2-lap online race: 11'57.998
Lap 1299: Formula Gran Turismo Nordschleife: 4'42.277
Lap 1342: AMG Academy Expert full lap: 7'59.478
Lap 1353: 2011 NASCAR Ford Fusion #99 Nordschleife: 6'00.312
Lap 1432: Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 Nordschleife, SS tires: 8'50.555
Lap 1472: GT-R LM Prototype Nordschleife: 5'58.993
Lap 1494: Formula GT Nurburgring Nordschleife (GT5 2.03): 4'45.076
Lap 1500: Formula GT Nurburgring Nordschleife (GT5 2.04): 4'44.972
Lap 1674: 2011 NASCAR Ford Fusion #99 Nordschleife: 5'59.541
Lap 1785: Formula GT Nordschleife (GT5 2.05) Sports Hard: 4'49.860
Lap 2140: Formula GT Nordschleife RS ABS off: 4'44.779
Lap 2598: Formula GT Nordschleife RS ABS off: 4'43.133
Lap 2604: Latest GT5 lap count
--------- GT5 --------------------------

=====================
Real-life lap records
=====================

6'11.13 - Stefan Bellof's time stands to this day as the lap record
at the Nordschleife.  All of the top fastest times were set during
qualifying in the 1983 Sports Car Championships, the final year that
series ran on the Nordschleife, by drivers of the Porsche 956.  If you
have the Porsche 956 In-Car dvd, you are basically viewing the 5th
fastest lap at around 6'41, but as Derek Bell was Bellof's partner in
that race, the car he is driving was the car that set the world record.
As funny as it is when Bell refers to Jackie Ickx who passes him at
Aremberg on a "fast lap", he's still talking about a 25-second
difference in pace. Pretty cool to see some of the names in this
historic starting grid...

1. 6'11.13: Bellof/Bell Rothmans #2
2. 6'16.85: Ickx/Mass Rothmans #1
3. 6'31.59: Wollek/Johansson Joest
4. 6'39.52: Rosberg/Lammers Canon
5. 6'41.17: Patrese/Alboreto Lancia Martini
6. 6'42.1:  Fitzpatrick/Hobbes JDavid

===========================
How many corners are there?
===========================

"It's not REALLY a corner..."
--Sabine Schmitz

The Nordschleife has 117 corners, in my opinion - at least
that's how I see it now in GT5.

In GT5 there is naturally a greatly increased accuracy in the track, 
and I also was starting to get lost or confused while reading my own
guide, since some of the minor bends had been oversimplified or
disregarded. So I went around for a few back-and-forth recon laps
(with much practice of e-brake turns in my Formula GT) and I've added
ten to the corner count.

I still don't quite get how people ended up tallying 147, or 173.  I can
understand the low numbers I've heard (I caught myself second-guessing
often, "is this a corner", but found I had counted the same bends
before most of the time), but I do wonder how they got the high counts
even if you included the GP circuit.  It's easy to disregard a bend
if you are going slow enough, but even in an F1 car I don't see where
the numbers could have gone so high unless you start numbering by
some arbitrary angle size. 

I must mention also that sometimes it takes really looking at the
track (either in a slow car or merely by driving really slowly in a 
fast one) to appreciate the complexities of the layout and its subtle
rhythmic delights.  It's all too easy to miss it when you're always
going for the fastest lap time you can manage.  I certainly had many
"look how cool that is" moments while going more slowly (and sometimes
backwards) and really analyzing not only what counts as a real corner
or at least a bend, but also how they connect to one another in some
almost musical phrases, variations, and echoes.

Can any other track really compare?  I find it funny that you will rarely
hear even professional drivers who are clearly in a position to comment
with authority and validity, say definitively that the 'Ring is the
world's most challenging, complex, and demanding circuit.  They'll say
it's "arguably" such, or "probably" such... but again the question, how
can any other track compare?  Personally, there are only a few other
circuits that offer the same demands on your precision (Monaco),
endurance (Spa, Le Mans), technique (Suzuka, Laguna Seca), or just pure
tradition and driving pleasure (Monza).  And fewer still that can
offer such a combination of all of these elements that you can never
be too dedicated to discovering more through many, many laps.


==============
Cross-training
==============

The idea of cross-training is to avoid getting too one-dimensional in your
racing practice (of course it applies to many other disciplines, sports,
etc as well) to the point that you may get limited or diminishing returns
on the time you spend doing laps. It means that by practicing other things,
you may come back to find that you have improved your main focus as well.
This is assuming mastery of the game (i.e. level 40 in A-spec) - prior to
that, there's still plenty left to do before you start needing to think
about what you want to do for cross-training.  I know some think in this
day of instant gratification that any amount of grinding is pointless, but
in order to become an accomplished driver, one must put in the time.

One could expound endlessly about the old aphorism "mens sana in corpore
sano" and how the principle transposes to many aspects of life - not just
the relationship between mind and body (and the way that the strengths of
each enhance the performance of the other) but the way that by studying
related disciplines, you will broaden your abilities in all of them.  As
to the simple applications on racing, there are lots of other things one
could do in life that seem unrelated to racing but somehow make you better
at it (academics - particularly math and physics; athleticism - such as
running or weight training; coordination and timing - such as playing a
musical instrument or even typing).  But I digress.

The most simple meaning of cross-training for the Nordschleife for me is
two things - different cars, and different tracks.  Naturally this also
leads to different tires and road conditions.  It's great for your speed
if you do lots and lots of laps around the 'Ring, but you will find great
benefit also if you intersperse it with practice at other tracks (my faves
are Monaco, Monza, Laguna Seca, and Le Mans), other cars (mentioned above
in detail), and other conditions (especially rally stages).  I've found
that the Alaska Snow Master stages in particular are a great way to hone
all of the elements that you need for doing the Nordschleife - and because
they are randomly generated, you are almost always improvising (you may
have some help from your co-driver, but it is somewhat minimal since he
doesn't tell you anything about track width, elevation change, etc).
And improvisation is a good way to test your true mastery of anything.

The other thing I usually go back to is the license tests - mainly the
S license series as well as the last race tests in each of the I licenses.
They are all pretty fun cars and tracks, and although it's a bummer that
you can't turn off SRF, if you turn off all the other driver aids and
maybe push the brake balance how you prefer, the handling is decent
enough even with lesser tires.


=============================
Safety and driving philosophy
=============================

Is racing too safe these days?  I've even asked myself that question,
purely as a spectator.  Believe me, you could hardly ask yourself that
question as a driver, except in the sense that the illusion of safety
in the motorsport world in general might be inviting drivers to engage
in increasingly risky behavior.  I think it is wonderful that when we
often see cars having wheel-to-wheel contact, flying through the air
upside down, then crashing into the barrier, the driver is not only
ok but the steering wheel gets tossed out of the cockpit in annoyance.
I don't much like the waning mutual respect drivers demonstrate now
that they know accidents have less chance of injury or fatality, so
they block each other hideously rather than dicing back and forth.
Most sadly - there will always be situations like the 2011 Las Vegas
IRL race that lead to a great driver losing his life and reminding us
all that racing will never be completely safe and there is always more
to learn about how to mitigate the danger.

There are plenty of reasons why racing continues to be a risky
endeavor, not the least of which is the fine line that teams often
balance between performance and reliability - the idea that "the ideal
race car crosses the line in first place and then falls apart" has
driven constructors to make some cars very light, very powerful,
and very quick, but so fragile that if anything goes wrong, it's a
complete disaster - particularly for the unlucky driver, whose car
will often break at the worst possible moment.  Steering columns
snap, wings fly off, brakes or suspensions fail.  The frustrating
fact is that a vast number of our greatest drivers have been
killed by mechanical failures, and not by their own fault.  And far
too many of them knew it - they went forward into a race where they
knew something serious was wrong with the car (or the track, or both).
Even the great Juan Manuel Fangio is quoted as saying "a crazy man
finishes in the cemetary", or on another occasion, something to the
effect of if you don't feel confident in the car or the track, don't
race.  I think the hardest thing is to distinguish between normal
worries that drivers tend to shut out as they must concentrate
100% on the race ahead, versus genuine problems they should heed
to avoid getting themselves hurt in the race to be.

One strong point of view that I have heard consistently from any
champion drivers (and only contradicted by drivers who never became
champions) is that you always have more to learn, no matter how much
experience you have.  I think this goes hand-in-hand with safety as
much as success - as soon as you think you have nothing more to learn,
not only is that the moment you will start to lose, but that could
be the start of what will eventually cost more than race results.

The other thing that many greats (Senna, Fittipaldi, Lauda, etc) have
expounded on eloquently is the pressure, how enormous it is and how
you must deal with it well.  As a racing driver, you're always going
for the limit, the absolute highest performance you can command of
yourself, which is not merely 100% of the car's limit but that 101%
or 102% which truly is its maximum.  At that level, the wrong kind
of response to pressure is a disaster - so you must know how to
remain calm and somewhat clinical, and precise.  And when the mistakes
happen, or bad luck, you must acknowledge it yet forget it and get
on with the task at hand, stay focused on moving forward and save
looking back on things for later.  It's very dangerous to let your
mind wander - you don't have the luxury of trying to multi-process
within your brain when you need to concentrate on each corner, each
braking point, each exit, to get the most out of the car that you can.
Above all, never let the red mist get out of control... you're already
risking your life enough when you race calmly.

"To drive consistently, you can't over-drive.  You can't go rushing
into corners, because then the whole corner becomes an adventure.
You've gotta be able to back off at the right time, get the car
decelerated, and get the car into the corner; don't overdo the
steering angles, don't overheat the tires, don't have the car
understeering one second and then oversteering the next second,
don't spin your wheels on the way out, don't use up more fuel,
don't use up more brakes.  Learn how to do it properly.  And when
you learn, never forget."
--Sir Jackie Stewart


========================
More great driver quotes
========================

The more I learn about past champion drivers, the more I find that
nothing I am going through as I learn about being a racing driver
is anything new.  Sure, some of the technology is a little different,
but much of the things you learn about yourself through racing is
the same as every driver before you for the last 100-odd years has
already experienced.  I decided I should include a few more quotes
that particularly struck a chord with me - quotes that you may
understand the words, but never really truly know the full meaning
until you experience it yourself.  And the funny thing is, it is
often filled with contradiction... but what human experience isn't.

"Racing brings out the worst in me.  Without it, I don't know what kind
of person I might have become.  But I'm not sure I like the person I am
now.  Racing makes me selfish, irritable, defensive."
--Phil Hill

"In retrospect it was worth it.  I had a very exciting life and learned
an awful lot about myself and others that I might never have learned.
Racing sort of forced a confrontation with reality.  Lots of people spend
their lives in a state that is never really destined to go anywhere."
--Phil Hill


"This isn't just a thousand-to-one shot.  This is a professional
blood sport.  And it can happen to you.  And then it can happen
to you again.

"A lot of people go through life doing things badly.  Racing is
important to men who do it well.  When you're racing, it's...
it's life.  Anything that happens before, or after - it's just
waiting."
--Steve McQueen, Le Mans


"I think that to drive very fast around a circuit requires a tremendous
amount of self-control, because the limit of driving very fast and 
going over the limit takes a tremendous amount of concentration."
--Jim Clark


"The racing driver's mind has to have the ability to have amazing
anticipation, coordination, and reflex, because of the speed the
car goes.  You are going in one second the length of a football field.

"That means your brain is receiving information from your body what
the car is doing physically, bumping, balance, performance.  You have
to visualize a second or two ahead of your car what line you are taking,
what you are going to do, before you get there because it comes too
fast."
--Emerson Fittipaldi


"For me, this research is fascinating. Every time I push, I find
something more, again and again. But there is a contradiction.
The same moment that you become the fastest, you are enormously
fragile. Because in a split-second, it can be gone. All of it.
These two extremes contribute to knowing yourself, deeper and deeper."
--Ayrton Senna


"Formula One is a mind game, no question. You have to think so hard
sometimes smoke comes out your ears! And if you don't keep your head
in gear the car will overtake you."
--Mika Hakkinen


"It is necessary to relax your muscles when you can.  Relaxing your brain
is fatal."
--Stirling Moss

"There are two things no man will admit he cannot do well: drive and
make love."
--Stirling Moss


"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."
--Mario Andretti

"Do it no matter what.  If you believe in it, it is something very honorable.
If somebody around you or your family does not understand it, then that's
their problem.  But if you do have a passion, an honest passion, just do it."
--Mario Andretti


"Racing is like sex - all men think they're good at it..." [shakes head]
--Jay Leno


================
COPYRIGHT NOTICE
================

Copyright 2010-2013 Mike Kimball

Intended for private, personal, and educational usage only.

Originally written to be posted on www.gamefaqs.com.
If you are viewing from another site, you may want to check
for the most updated version.

Please notify me if you've posted it somewhere else.

All trademarks and copyrights contained in this document are owned by
their respective trademark and copyright holders.

==================
Contact The Author
==================

My old yahoo account is getting killed with silly messages trying
to sell me replica watches or cheap ED medication, yet even with all
the hits on this guide I very rarely receive email about it anymore.
So I'm retiring that email as a contact here.

Contact me on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/formulakimball

================
Acknowledgements
================

First, I want to thank all of the people reading this and those who have
emailed me to share their thoughts on it.  I'm really touched, really.

I would like to acknowledge some sources which have offered specific
inspiration for this guide: justgofaster.com, Nurburgring for Dummies by
Christopher Heiser, and of course Ben Lovejoy's awesome guide (including the
corner names and the very informative translations/history).  As for other
acknowledgements, I must mention dvds from FIA Formula 1 2000-2008, Best
Motoring International vols. 9-16 and Tsuchiya’s Drift Bible, and Skip Barber's
Going Faster.  Also, much thanks for the In Car 956 dvd featuring Derek Bell
and his commentary of a lap at Nurburgring, and the Nissan GT-R dvd featuring
fantastic laps from 'ringmeister Dirk Schoysman.  And also, the book
"Winning, a Racing Driver's Guide", by George A. Anderson, with guest authors
Carroll Smith and Bertil Roos among others.  I've also been reading a lot
of cracked.com lately, so I hope to make subtle tweaks to this guide that
will make it easier and more interesting to read. Naturally this guide will
become more influenced by Ayrton Senna and the awesome Senna documentary
as well, which I saw recently.  His passion for the sport and his amazing
ability continue to be very inspiring.

Some other GT5 players who I must thank for tunings that I used as a basis
of my setup for the Formula Gran Turismo (particularly for taking on the
Spa Time Trial #46): thanks to manumanu19 for transmission info and
MSPDaflow for suspension info.

I want to thank Sir Jackie Stewart OBE for all of his invaluable contributions
to motorsport and especially Formula 1 when it comes to safety as well as
driving technique.  His advice in the Grand Prix: The Killer Years dvd was
particularly resonant (and quotable), as was that of Jackie Ickx, and
Emerson Fittipaldi.

Special thanks to all who made it possible for me to visit the Nurburgring
in person at last - our bus driver Max first and foremost for setting it all
up, our tour manager Oise for adding the Nurburgring day to the schedule, my
former band and TM (John, Sean, Trey, and Brian V), and all at Zakspeed
for an amazing high-speed experience.

And finally, all at Bertil Roos Racing School. No amount of time in a simulator
is as valuable as even one day at a real track, and what I learned from them
has made a huge difference.


==================
Thanks for reading
==================

Recently thanks to an article in Cracked I became aware that Japan has
produced another game which should forever stand as a reminder that these
are just games after all, they can be made realistic or not, frustrating
or not, absurdly difficult or not.  The game in question is called
Takeshi no Chousenjou - look it up sometime if you don't know of it.
Or watch a hilarious video about it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RckrHqX1O3U

The ultimate thing is to remember it's just a game, don't take it too
seriously.  It's never going to be the same as real life and it's full
of insanity that can be hilarious (at your expense).

Thank you for reading, it really amazes me to see how many times this
guide has been read, and continues getting hits despite the game's being
over two years old!  Again, I hope this humble labor has helped or
inspired you in some way.


"The various methods cannot be expressed in writing... It is
difficult to express it clearly... You must practice constantly."
--Miyamoto Musashi, 1645

++++++++++++