Why The Nürburgring Nordschliefe is legendary. And why lap times do matter to us all.
It is regularly called into question why a fast lap around the Nurburgring is relevant. Our own man Bassam had a recent dig at das ‘ring in his “Nürburgring? Schmürburgring! Why lap times don’t matter for new cars” feature. But I would argue that it is possibly the most important stretch of twisting tarmac and concreted karrusell in the world for manufacturers, and also for us.
Most recently we have been treated to the Porsche ‘we did it!’ and the McLaren ‘we did it but we ain’t saying squat about it!’ saga. Both manufacturers are playing to the myth of the Nordschleife in equal measure thus proving its importance to them. Porsche’s game is the fair and square triumphant card while McLaren are playing the coy buggers and keeping their time a secret. If McLaren truly weren’t bothered about the Nürburgring they wouldn’t have gone. They also wouldn’t have commemorated their sub-seven minute lap with a fancy video. They also would not have ‘accidentally’ released just enough information to make us believe they trounced the Hun on their home turf.
While this is merely willy waving in slightly different streets by Porsche and McLaren, the real importance of the Nordschleife to manufacturers is as a testing ground. The Green Hell is “widely considered to be the most demanding and difficult purpose-built racing circuit in the world.” And, despite that being a direct quote from Wikipedia, it is pretty accurate and I don’t think many professional drivers would disagree. The reason why many manufacturers have set up permanent shop at the Nürburgring is simple. It isn’t a circuit.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife is a road. A 20.8km road with 154 turns, 300 metres of elevation change, technical sections, fluctuating road surface quality, banked turns and straights that will let you pin it in top gear no matter what car you are in. It can be sunny at one end and raining at the other. There are very few safe run-off areas and there are plenty of trees waiting at the edge of the road to smack you in the teeth if you mess up. And under the shade of those very same trees can lurk dampness or even ice on an otherwise dry track. Yup, the Green Hell is an awesome stretch of real world relevant road that benefits from no oncoming traffic.
There is probably nowhere else in the world better suited for a manufacturer to test and fine tune chassis dynamics, suspension set-up or even tyre choice for a performance orientated road car. Show me a road car that is quick around the Nürburgring on road tyres and I’ll bet it is fast in the real world. And this is where we benefit from manufacturers chasing lap times at the Nürburgring. We get the option of better handling cars in the showroom.
Finally, and just to completely null and void Bassam’s argument that “Nürburgring? Schmürburgring! Why lap times don’t matter for new cars” , I have one more point. Nobody reading this (including Bassam I bet) would ever take a car on to the Nordschleife for a high-speed Bridge-to-Gantry run and not time themselves.
It isn’t just the manufacturers chasing lap times; it is all of us when confronted with the legendary Nürburgring.
Source – Auto55.be