Atlas F1   A Lap of Nurbrugring

  by Paul Ryder, England

Nurburgring track map
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A flying lap of the 4.5 km Nurburgring circuit begins at the long start/finish straight. Powering down the straight, which is the highest part of the circuit, drivers hit 300 kmph in 6th gear as they reach the first corner, a tight right followed by a slightly longer left, the Castrol-S corner.

Watching they don't slide to the left as they turn into the sharp right, getting this corner right sets up for a fast exit at 170 kmph as you enter a short straight. Reaching 270 kmph in 6th gear, drivers break for a moderate left, taken at 180 kmph before switching across to the left of the circuit for the Ford Kurve, taken even slower at 105 kmph, second gear.

The Ford Kurve leads onto a straight which sees an elevation drop as they power down towards the slowest part of the circuit. Passing the first timing sector on the way, drivers reach the Dunlop-Kehre, a hairpin surrounded by a massive spectator stadium section. Slowing to 85 kmph for the moderate hair pin, drivers play with the throttle as they attempt to find grip and set up for quick exit and run up to a sweeping left and right taken at almost full throttle, at 250 kmph. This corner is tricky and can catch one out as he reaches the crest of the hill, being on the wrong line here can see him in the gravel.

Continuing the build up of speed along another straight, drivers power down towards the RTL Kurve, a tight left taken at 150 kmph followed by a right taken at 170 kmph. Again the car has to switch from right to left between each corner, leaving no room for error. Taking the Bit-Kurve, in 3rd gear, drivers run down a big elevation drop towards the ITT-bogen corner, which is a fast sweeping right taken at 265 kmph.

Watching on the entry as the car bottoms out before continuing up a hill towards one of the most tricky parts of the circuit, the Veedol-S chicane, also passing the second timing sector. Drivers break heavy from 290 to 100 kmph as they turn sharp left then right exiting the chicane and running over the exit kurbs. A short straight follows before the final corner, the Coca-Cola Kurve, taken at 110 kmph. This corner is vital to conclude a good lap and can set up for a fast run onto the start/finish straight, completing a lap of Nurburgring.

Facts and Stats about the European GP and the Nurburgring Track

  • Williams finished last year's European GP fourth with Ralf Schumacher, which meant that team maintained its record of finishing the last ten European Grands Prix or races at the Nurburgring in the points, and that includes three wins. McLaren have won four times, and Benetton twice, but you have to go back to 1985 for Ferrari's last win in either the European Grand Prix, or at the Nurburgring.

  • Mika Hakkinen has a great record in European Grands Prix and races at the 'Ring with only one retirement, and two wins. Michael Schumacher's qualifying record is better, but three times he's had incidents - one with his own brother - although when he has finished, it's never been lower than second! Last year's winner, Johnny Herbert, has a good record of finishing, while Eddie Irvine's seventh last year was the first time out of the points. Jacques Villeneuve is a two time winner and has nearly finished every time, last year being the only exception.

  • The European Grand Prix title is one that has had a rather curious history. In the early days, it simply signified a departure from the only Grand Prix in existence at the time, the Grand Prix of the Automobile Club de France (ACF). With the inception of the World Championship in 1950, it became an honourary title bestowed on Grands Prix that already existed and more recently, it has become a title of convience in countries where two Grands Prix are run per year.

    It was used as the title of the opening round of the new World Championship at Silverstone in 1950. From then on, the title was used as an honororary title every year (apart from 1953) until 1968. As such, it flitted around the various venues, and three times it visited the Nurburgring, on each occasion marking a significant event.

    The first time was when Juan Manuel Fangio won for Mercedes-Benz in 1954, Mercedes' second Grand Prix victory of the year. In 1961, it was the venue for Stirling Moss's classic defeat of the Ferraris in Rob Walker's Lotus, while seven years later, Jackie Stewart drove what was acknowledged to be one of his finest races ever when he beat Graham Hill's Lotus by over four minutes in appalling conditions. Incidentally, the record holder when it comes to European Grand Prix winners stands to Moss and Tony Brooks who both won it two and a half times - they shared the winning Vanwall at Aintree in 1957.

  • The European Grand Prix reappeared in 1972 at Brands Hatch to honour the 75th anniversary of the organising club - the RAC, and for the next five years, the race again flitted from Grand Prix to Grand Prix on an honorary basis, the last being run in 1977.

    But in 1983, the European Grand Prix reappeared at Brands Hatch, now in its latest guise as the alternative title of a race where two Grands Prix were being held in one country. Silverstone held the British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch the European, and next year, it hosted the British Grand Prix, before having the European again the following year, when Nigel Mansell scored his first win but Alain Prost clinched the 1985 title.

  • Between the two Brands Hatch European Grands Prix came the first one at Nurburgring. In spite of constant updating, the old, 22.5 kms circuit had been deemed unsafe after Niki Lauda's accident in 1976. The German Grand Prix consequently found a new permanent home at Hockenheim. However, a 'new' 4.542 kms Nurburgring was created and hosted the European Grand Prix in 1984, won by Alain Prost.

  • The European title now again became dormant until Tom Wheatcroft's persistence in having a Grand Prix at Donington Park in England paid off and he hosted what was to become a classic race. On a damp, murky day, Ayrton Senna slipped back to fifth at the start, and then sensationally overtook Michael Schumacher, then Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and then Alain Prost to lead at the end of lap one. Making 'only' five pit visits to Hill's six and Prost's seven, the Brazilian won brilliantly in the changing conditions by nearly a lap.

    A year later, the Spanish Grand Prix was at the Circuit de Catalunya while a European race was held at Jerez, near Seville, former venue for the Spanish Grand Prix itself. Michael Schumacher won, as he did the following year when the European race returned to the Nurburgring for its second visit to the new circuit. A year later, Jacques Villeneuve scored his first victory by beating Schumacher, now in a Ferrari.

  • In 1997, Schumacher and Villeneuve were battling again, this time for the championship. The final round of the series was at Jerez, which again had the title of European Grand Prix. Of course, everyone remembers Villeneuve coming up on the inside of Schumacher as they braked for the hairpin, the Ferrari driver shunting his car into Villeneuve's and retiring subsequently, thus handing victory in the championship to the Canadian. The race, however, was still not won; Villeneuve obligingly let both McLarens through, and then David Coulthard let Mika Hakkinen through to score his first win. He's scarcely looked back since.

  • That year, as in 1998, there were Grands Prix at the Nurburgring under the new title of Luxembourg Grand Prix. The first was won by Jacques Villeneuve scoring his second win at the circuit, and the second by Mika Hakkinen, he and teammate Coulthard sandwiching Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

  • Last year's European Grand Prix, however, was one of the most exciting and unpredictable races for a long time, so the inclement weather was actually a bonus. Stewart were first and third, sandwiching Trulli's Prost. McLaren were fifth with Hakkinen, Ferrari out of the first six.

    Related Links

    The official Nurburgring web site

    The European GP FORIX page

    The Nurburgring FORIX page

      Related Articles

    The 1999 Atlas F1 European GP Review Issue

    The 1997 Atlas F1 European GP Review Issue

  • Paul Ryder© 2000 Kaizar.Com, Incorporated.
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