Here's Gil De Ferran's answer to a question I asked:

My question:

What is the proper order of adjustments and method in tuning the balance of a car damper compression, damper rebound, sway bars, alignment, ride-height and air pressures and would there be any difference from a modified street car to a race car?

Gil De Ferran's answer:

As I spent my whole life driving open-wheel cars -- as my dad would say, "real racing cars!" -- I will keep the answer more focused on that, otherwise we are into another book-like response.

Firstly, you have to concentrate on the basics, such as: is the car well assembled; is the setup as determined by the setup sheet; are the tire pressures set correctly, etc.

For example, if the cross-weight is not symmetrical or is incorrectly set, this can affect the handling and will get you totally lost.

Secondly, it is nice when you have some history or proper engineering analysis of the car you are driving to ensure none of the setup parameters are way off. When this is the case, it may mask the effects what one would consider normal adjustments to setup. Only very experienced drivers would normally be able to pick out such anomalies, so knowing what you have beforehand is crucial. For example, if your damper forces are way off what they should be, you can change springs until the cows come home and it is likely many of the handling issues will persist to some degree.

Assuming the first two counts are taken care of, you can start worrying about setup changes.

You have to consider the type of car you are driving, i.e. is it a car with a great deal of aerodynamic downforce or not?

In most high-downforce cars, the biggest thing you have to worry about is ensuring the underbody is in the correct position relative to the ground. The more extreme the car is regarding the amount of downforce, the more this is true. As the amount of downforce the car produces will significantly affect how the tires are working, you must ensure the car is well set up from an aerodynamic standpoint.

Now to the tires...are they at the right pressure, temperature; have they not destroyed themselves already? What is the condition of the track and how is it affecting the tires? These are all questions you have to ask yourself before you touch anything. For example, you may find yourself in a very low grip track condition, the tires will never work properly and the car will feel horrendous. In this scenario, the worst you can do is to start significantly changing the setup as the track will continuously evolve and you will get lost.

Finally, you are almost ready to play with the adjustments of your car -- apart from the fact that you must consider how your own driving inputs are affecting the car balance and determine how you want to drive and how the car needs to be for you to drive this way.

Listen, you aspiring professional racers -- I cannot emphasize enough how important this is! Data normally only tells you what is happening and not what is not happening. Use your judgment and feel to decide what you need out of the car to match with how you think is the best way to approach a corner. For example, you may be turning in very gently to a medium speed corner and gently applying the power, and as a result your car is actually quite well balanced and all the data will reflect that. However, you may decide that turning in later and more aggressively, throwing the rear out a little and getting hard on the power, may end up being a quicker way to approach the corner in question, so in this situation, even though the car is actually well balanced, you must seek a setup which will give you slightly more understeer and traction.

Sorry...adjustments...I forgot!

Well, there could be yet another book on this one!

Anyway, they are all fair game. Once you have covered the above, you may make any change you'd like in whatever order you want. It all depends what handling characteristics you are trying to affect and what level are these different parameters. Not only that, depending on the level of some of these parameters, they may have more or less effect. Complicated, huh?! Don't despair, make the change, feel the change, understand the change, remember the change...then do it again and again and again...slowly the picture will become clearer.

As you probably gathered, every aspect is interlinked and everything affects everything! Develop your judgment, knowledge and feel to decide whether the issues you are experiencing are induced by a shortcoming of the car, your driving or the track. It is no good changing the car if the problem is with your driving!