The Nurburgring lap time has been the go-to marketing tool for manufacturers of fast machinery for years now. Whether you make an exotic hypercar or pokey little hot hatch, the Green Hell has been seen as the perfect way to put a marketable figure on your car’s performance. It looks like that’s all set to change.
J.F. Musial, executive producer of the upcoming hypercar documentary ‘Apex’, has written a blog detailing how Koenigsegg’s attempts to set a lap time with the One:1 have had to be put on hold. Musial and his crew were preparing to fly to Germany to film the hypercar’s effort, however the Nurburgring’s management team “moved to ban manufacturers from attempting and publishing timed laps on the famed, 13-mile course.”
It’s a massive disappointment for Christian von Koenigsegg, who was confident of shaving “double-digits” off the Porsche 918’s 6m 57s time. The move is not out of the blue, though, and is hardly unexpected.
Back in March, Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan GT-R race car left the track at Flugplatz, clearing the catch fencing and killing a spectator. Since that moment, ‘Ring management has made moves to slow cars at certain sections of the track to minimise risk.
That could have been considered nothing more than a knee-jerk response to a horrifying incident, intended to buy time until a long-term solution could be found. This latest announcement, however, appears to show that Nurburgring bosses want to put an end to the potentially dangerous arms race that has grown between manufacturers at the circuit - every new car needs to be faster than its rival, and with faster speeds come bigger crashes, and with increased pressure to succeed comes bigger risks taken by drivers.
The Nurburgring is an ancient track that has long been considered one of the most dangerous circuits in the world, so it’s probably about time its management invested in seriously modernising the circuit if it is to survive; it should be possible to redesign a few of the more dangerous sections of track without destroying the whole circuit’s character and allure. Unfortunately that would cost vast sums of money.
Would such drastic measures be such a bad thing? Not necessarily. As I mentioned, if the circuit’s owners want to invest heavily in resurfacing a few particularly dangerous sections, the circuit might lose a little character, but on the whole that’s a small price to pay for its survival.
The alternative could be that manufacturers only use the Nurburgring for testing purposes - the main appeal of the track is that it has all the bumps and yumps testers love to subject cars to in relatively controlled conditions.
Timed laps would be no more, but they’re not exactly representative of what you experience on the road. Just because a professional racing driver can lap the ‘Ring marginally faster in a Megane RS Trophy R, does that mean I’ll enjoy the car more than a Seat Leon Cupra 280? I’m not convinced.
Whatever the ultimate outcome, this could be a huge turning point in the world of the Nurburgring. We’ll watch this developing story with great interest…