February 3, 2023

Oversteer Masterclass: How Racecar Drivers Deal With Oversteer

Dion von Moltke

Car Racing

Oversteer Masterclass: How Racecar Drivers Deal With Oversteer Image

Before we get into the details of oversteer on the race track, what causes it, and how we can correct it. Let’s make sure we are all on the same page on what oversteer is.  The definition of oversteer is when the car turns faster (or more sharply) than we intended it to as racecar drivers.

If you’re struggling to understand the difference between understeer vs. oversteer let me steal a famous quote that you will hear many professional racecar drivers use:

“Understeer is when you turn in, and the car goes straight, and you hit the barriers with the front of the car.  Oversteer is when you turn in, and the rear of the car overtakes the front, and you hit the barriers with the rear of the car.”

Now that we have an understanding of what oversteer is, let’s highlight the topics we’ll cover in this article.

Table of contents:

Chapter 1: What Causes Oversteer?

Chapter 2: The Different Types of Oversteer

Chapter 3: How To Adjust as a Racecar Driver If You Have Oversteer

Chapter 4: How To Make A Save In An Oversteer Moment

Chapter 5: Possible Racecar Setup Changes To Fix Oversteer

Chapter 1: What Causes Oversteer

When it comes to diagnosing any potential understeer or oversteer moment in a racecar it's important to speak about what section of the corner the issue stems from. What causes oversteer at corner entry are going to be very different than what would cause oversteer at corner exit.

Below we split up common issues that lead to oversteer within each phase of the corner.

Want to view our in-depth video based oversteer course?  Find our 5 lessons course here!

Reasons you may have oversteer at corner entry:

  1. Too much entry speed
  2. Too hard on the brakes after turn in
  3. Abrupt lift off of throttle after turn in
  4. Too fast of a turn-in
  5. Turn-in comes at the incorrect moment causing the driver to be in the marbles or off the racing line
  6. Brake Bias too far to the rear
  7. Too high of rear tire pressure
  8. Way too low of rear tire pressure
  9. Not enough rear downforce compared to front downforce on the racecar
  10. Not enough rebound in the rear shocks
  11. Not enough from compression
  12. Too much front rebound
  13. Undulations or elevation changes on the race track
  14. Tire degradation
  15. Too much toe out
  16. Not enough rear camber
  17. Too much rake in the car (the rear ride height of the car is too high relative to the front)

Reasons you may have oversteer at mid-corner:

  1. Too much mid-corner speed
  2. Too much brake pressure
  3. Abrupt steering inputs
  4. Abrupt and early throttle inputs
  5. Brake Bias too far to the rear
  6. Too high of rear tire pressure
  7. Way too low of rear tire pressure
  8. Not enough rear downforce compared to front downforce on the racecar
  9. Not enough rebound in the rear shocks
  10. Not enough front compression
  11. Too much front rebound
  12. Undulations or elevation changes on the race track
  13. Tire degradation
  14. Too much toe out
  15. Not enough rear camber

The biggest difference between corner entry oversteer and mid-corner oversteer is that typically at corner entry the car never takes a “set” or finds its platform on the springs. An example of this is when a driver turns too quickly, which transfers the weight too fast and overloads how much the springs can support.

When it comes to mid-corner oversteer we typically did find the car took a set at corner entry, and as the car carves towards the apex we start to lose the rear. A more common cause of this will be things like tire degradation, speed, etc.

It’s a subtle but very important difference!

Reasons you may have cornet exit oversteer:

  1. The driver has too much steering wheel input as they hit the throttle
  2. Throttle input is too aggressive
  3. Too stiff with rear spring rates or compression
  4. Too high of rear tire pressures
  5. Not enough negative rear camber
  6. Tire degradation
  7. Undulations or elevation changes on the race track

When it comes down to what causes oversteer we have to major themes:

  1. Driver incorrectly managing weight transfer

  2. Setup issues not allowing the weight to shift correctly

If the car is not reacting in a way you want it to, a racecar driver should always first think about how their inputs are shifting the weight of the car. A deep understanding of weight-transfer and weight distribution is critical for a racecar driver to know and if you want to learn more we have a great video article on that topic here.

Chapter 2: The Different Types of Oversteer

Just like how we need to define oversteer by where in the corner it comes, we also need to work towards defining the type of oversteer we are feeling on track. At corner entry and mid-corner we have 3 core types of oversteer:

  1. Trailing Throttle Oversteer (Snap Oversteer or Lift Off Oversteer)
  2. Flat Slides
  3. Braking Induced Oversteer

The biggest difference between trailing throttle oversteer and flat slides is the predictability of the slide. The term “snap oversteer” does a good job of expelling the feeling, it’s like the car just snapped into a big oversteer out of no where.

Do you struggle with feeling what the racecar is doing on the race track?  Learn more about how to develop better feel by clicking here.

A flat slide is more predictable and controlled oversteer, as a racecar driver you feel it slowly trending towards oversteer. If you feel a lack of confidence in the rear end but the car isn’t actually sliding yet, it’s highly likely you are dealing with a flat slide.

I typically find a snap oversteer stems from the car not finding its platform. When I use the term “find its platform” what I’m describing here is the car squatting on its springs. When we turn in, the weight slowly moves to the outside and should eventually squat or “sit” on its springs. When that happens it grips up and carves down to the apex.

When the car doesn’t find its platform the weight shifts but continues to shift too much and you never experience that moment where it stops moving and sits onto the springs. It feel like the car falls over on itself and it snaps into an oversteer moment. In this moment we have overloaded the outside rear tire.

Braking induced oversteer is usually a direct result of simply braking too late initially and not having the ability to release off enough brake pressure after the turn-in point because the car has not slowed down enough.

When we have too much brake pressure past the turn-in point we end up with too much weight over the front wheels relative to the rear wheels. This causes the front of the car to be slammed down into the ground and the rear to be too high in the air, that causes us to lose rear grip and induces the slide.

Here is a small visual to help you with what happens with weight when we brake. Look how the front is lower than the rear here, when we accelerate the opposite happens.

Weight transfer of a racecar within the braking zone

At corner exit we have really just one type of oversteer:

  1. Power Down Oversteer

Power down oversteer happens when the rear tires don’t have enough grip relative to the amount of throttle we are applying. Simply said, exit oversteer is caused by too aggressive of a throttle application.

We do want to ramp from initial throttle back to full throttle quickly, but our limiting factor here is how much grip the tires can give. Typically, higher horsepower cars will deal with power down oversteer more than lower horsepower cars.

Want to learn more about how racecar drivers should adjust their driving when racing a higher-horsepower racecar? Click here!

Chapter 3: How To Adjust as a Racecar Driver If You Have Oversteer

If you’re tired about hearing about weight transfer I have some bad news for you. Understanding how to adjust your driving as a racecar driver comes back to weight transfer. There are two things we are focused on trying to execute on when dealing with oversteer:

  1. Sending less weight to the front end of the car
  2. Slowing down the weight transfer

There is really only one way for us to adjust how much weight is on the front end as we turn into the corner. We achieve this by simply braking earlier. When I’m dealing with corner entry oversteer this is one of the first adjustments I make.

The other adjustment I am working on is slowing down or smoothing out all my inputs. This means slowing down the rate of how quickly I turn into the corner, slowing down how quickly I transition off the brakes, slowing down how quickly I go from initial throttle to full throttle.

When I’m dealing with corner entry oversteer and I’m focused on slowing down my turn-in rate, I will be supplementing that with a slightly earlier turn-in point as well. The reason I also turn in earlier is because in this scenario, I don’t want to apex in a different place than my usual apex. If I turn in at the same point, but turn-in slower my trajectory will be off and I won't hit my normal apex. Turning earlier and slower allows me to keep my same apex point.

If I’m dealing with corner exit oversteer or traction issues I may actually want to change where I apex slightly. When dealing with this type of oversteer my main goal is to try and get the car straighter at corner exit so that I can unwind the steering wheel faster as I apply the throttle.

Tires don’t like doing two things at once and usually at corner exit as I’m picking up the throttle I have some lateral load (steering) and longitudinal load (accelerating). By apexing later, I’m straightening up my exit. This reduces the lateral load in the car and gives me more grip for acceleration.

Finally, in high-speed corners the adjustment I would focus on is potentially picking up my initial throttle a little bit earlier than normal. This little bit of throttle (as little as just 5%) shifts weight even further back to the rear which helps give me more confidence in the rear.

Check out this short video summarizing this chapter which also includes a real life example of how professional racecar drivers adjust to oversteer in high-speed corners



Chapter 4: How To Make A Save In An Oversteer Moment


Let’s get into the section that everyone was waiting for! The big moment happens, we get that big slide. How do we correct it so that we don’t have a spin or crash?

Saving the car during a big oversteer moment comes to making the right choice in each phase. Let’s start digging into the four phases:

1. Feeling It Early

The earlier in the corner that you can feel the car starting to slide the better the chance we have to make the save. The #1 reason that causes drivers to not make the save when the car oversteer is that they simply react too late.

If you can start early on slowing turning into the slide and slowing the car down more, you won’t need as violent as a reaction to make the save.

While just gaining experience is the main way drivers learn to feel the car more, there are other ways to drastically increase our ability to feel what the car is doing. Check out this great video on developing feel from Blayze pro coach, Ken Hill.

2. If You’re On Throttle, Get Off Of It!

In all our talk about weight transfer this one may seem a little counter-intuitive. But, as the car starts to slide and if we are on throttle we need to immediately, quickly, but smoothly release off any throttle input we have.

The main reason here is if we are losing the car, the rear tires have lost traction. As the car slides the inside rear wheel gets very light and that makes it too easy for the inside tire to begin to spin which then makes the oversteer even worse.  By not getting off the throttle and continuing to accelerate you are essentially pouring fuel on the fire.

We are also already over the limit if the car is starting to snap. If we continue to accelerate we just continue to go further and further over the limit, we need to reduce our speed as quickly as we can.

3. Big Correction and Pause

Once that oversteer really happens and the car snaps we need to turn into the oversteer violently. Turning into the oversteer means turning into the direction that the rear end is sliding. In the video above, the rear breaks out to the right so I immediately counter-steer into it by turning to the right.

In this moment we need to have very fast hands and we need aggressive hands. We can’t be timid with how hard we counter steer, notice I quickly go straight to nearly full lock on the steering wheel.

Once we counter steer into the slide we then need to be prepared for a short pause and then counter corrections. When we counter steer correctly the rear end will slowly stop sliding little by little this is the pause period where we hold our counter steer. The bigger the slide, the longer the pause we need.

4. Counter Corrections

At this moment the car really turns into one big pendulum. As the pendulum swings hard one way, we know it is going to have a roughly equal counter-reaction the other way. You have to be ready for the car to snap back to the other way.

The car is sliding and heavily loading up our outside springs. As the slide slowly stops, those springs are going to explode up, that is the moment the pendulum swings hard the other way and compresses the springs on the other side of the racecar.

Our first correction in the other direction should be a little bit smaller than the first oversteer moment. The car will continue to pendulum one way to the next with smaller and smaller oversteer moments, we will need to counter-correct into all of those until the car is back underneath us. Our corrections will get smaller and smaller and the pause moments will get short and shorter as we get the car back underneath us.

It's this exact moment why having your hands at 9’ and 3’ o clock on the steering wheel becomes so critical on track. If we are shifting our hands on the steering wheel while also needing to make precise corrections it makes it nearly impossible to know exactly how much you have corrected. This leads directly into not correcting enough or even correcting too much in the counter-correction phase.

The keyword of the counter-correction phase is smooth. We want to be smooth with our steering inputs and patient getting back to throttle. A common mistake is when a driver thinks they have the car saved too early while counter-correcting and gets back to throttle too early. Be patient and wait for the car to be fully collected and for the slides have stopped.

5. What Do We Do If We Can’t Make The Save?

If the oversteer moment is too violent and we lose the car we want to raise the white flag and hit the brakes as hard as we can and put the clutch in. As this moment it is all about trying to reduce our speed as much as possible and hopefully having the car come to a stop before we hit a wall or another car.

If you’re able to get the car slowed down it is really important that we come to a full stop! Many accidents happen when the driver that just spun doesn’t come to a full stop and backs into a car trying to get around them. Don’t try to reduce the amount of time you’re losing, just bring the car to a stop, wait for clear track, and get back up to speed!

Chapter 5: Possible Racecar Setup Changes To Fix Oversteer

Once we have exhausted all options on how we adapt to an oversteering car with our driving inputs it’s time to take a look at potential setup changes.

Below we will discuss potential setup changes you can make to fix oversteer on-track. This isn’t an exhaustive list because the potential causes of oversteer is nearly limitless, but this list are the common changes we as professional racecar drivers and engineers think about making first.

When it comes to setup make sure you are only making one change at a time!  For example, if I am struggling with a car that has a flat slide at corner entry in hairpin style corners one of the first things I would think about trying is lowering the rear ride height.

I would not lower the rear ride height and stiffen the front compression at the same time.  In an ideal situation I would lower ride height, run 3 - 5 laps, and then come in to either take that change back to what we had before and try something else or lower the rear even more if it was a good change.

Setup Changes For Corner Entry Oversteer

  • More front compression
  • Stiffer front springs
  • Increase front ride height
  • Reduce front negative camber
  • Less front toe out
  • Less front downforce
  • Increase rear rebound
  • Increase rear downforce
  • Lower rear ride height
  • Ensure tire pressures are in the right range
  • Increase negative camber on the rear
  • Reduce toe out on the rear
  • Move brake bias towards the front
  • Stiffen front bar

Setup Changes For Mid-Corner Oversteer

  • More front compression
  • Stiffer front springs
  • Increase front ride height
  • Reduce front negative camber
  • Less front toe out
  • Less front downforce
  • Increase rear rebound
  • Increase rear downforce
  • Lower rear ride height
  • Ensure tire pressures are in the right range
  • Increase negative camber on the rear
  • Reduce toe out on the rear
  • Move brake bias towards the front
  • Stiffen front bar

Setup Changes For Corner Exit Oversteer

  • Softer rear springs
  • Softer rear compression
  • Increase rear downforce
  • Increase negative camber on the rear
  • Soften rear bar
  • Ensure tire pressures are in the right range
  • More front compression
  • Stiffer front springs
  • Increase rear rebound

If you want to learn more about how to approach working on setup check out this in-depth article from the Blayze coaching team!


There you have it! Everything you need to know about the different types of oversteers, what causes oversteer, and how to correct oversteer through your inputs as a racecar driver or with setup.

Whether you’re dealing with snap oversteer, lift-off oversteer, brake-induced oversteer, or power-down oversteer you have a systematic approach to correcting it.

A big part of this is knowing how to safely work your way up to the limit on the race track. At Blayze our job as coaches is to give you a clear understanding of fundamentals and build up to the limit.

If you want to drive faster, drive more consistently, and drive safer then we highly recommend signing up and selecting your full-time dedicated pro coach at Blayze.

Try 30-days of Blayze+ for just $29. You will select your preferred coach, hop on a 1:1 intro call with them, and receive an in-depth personal coaching session. Simply upload your video from any camera, in any car, on any race track, to get coaching! Perfect for drivers of all experience levels and the average Blayze customer goes 1 second a lap faster after just one coaching session.

Click here to learn more!

Blayze | Dion von Moltke

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Dion von Moltke

Daytona 24 Hour Winner

Car Racing

I've spent 20 years of my life in this sport that we all love so much. During that time I was fortunate enough to have a 10 year professional career where I won the Rolex at Daytona 24 hour, the Sebring 12 Hour (twice), and became an official driver for Audi. After retiring from professional racing I became a co-founder at Blayze. My goal with building this platform is to make it more affordable, accessible, and convenient to learn personally from the best coaches in the world!

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