Bring back the (real) Nurburgring

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nick Heidfeld, BMW, Nurburgring Nordschleife, 2007, 470150

This weekend is the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring. The mammoth race with over 200 entrants takes place on the mighty Nurburgring Nordschleife, home of the German Grand Prix until 1976.

I’m sure the following is no more than a pipe dream, but let’s allow ourselves a little indulgence here and ask, how could F1 ever go back to the real Nurburgring? And how spectacular would it be if it did?

Looking at the restrictions on building a modern Grand Prix track makes for depressing reading.

Take smoothness for example – an F1 track’s surface must no vary by more than 3mm every four metres. Or corner banking, which may be no greater than a mere 10 degrees.

I understand the need and importance of pursuing a safer sport. But I think F1 has gone too far in terms of making tracks easier rather than safer. Look at how flat and unchallenging circuits like Bahrain and Shanghai are compared to the original Nurburgring.

The N?â??rburgirng is the greatest circuit in the world. Seeing F1 cars race thee again would be immense.

In order to do it the restrictions on track radius, gradient, smoothness and s on would have to be waived. The cost of installing new run-off areas would be huge, but hell, F1 is awash with cash and I bet if there was a will then a way would be found.

Yes, I know I’m being crazy, unreasonable and romantic. But Monte-Carlo’s extremes have been tolerated for decades. If it’s OK to have F1 cars blast through the Monaco tunnel at 150 mph with zero run-off in dim light, then perhaps with a little imagination and an Ecclestone-sized wad of cash, they could do the same at the Nurburgring.

At the very least, can we agree that F1 tracks have become too simple, too uniform, and too unchallenging, and that taking a bit more inspiration from the Nordschleife would be no bad thing?

More about the Nurburgring Nordschleife

34 comments on “Bring back the (real) Nurburgring”

  1. Does anyone know where I can watch the Nurburgring 24hrs in the USA?

  2. Always dreamt of seeing F1 cars go around on the mammoth circuit. Not only is the track pretty dangerous, but the logistics of making sure that safety/medical vehicles and cranes would be available at all parts of the huge track would be mind-boggling.

    I’d also be happy to see Laguna Seca on the F1 calendar, since everyone wants a GP in the United States.

  3. Yes the logistics in terms of safety features would be immense but considering the millions of dollars that surround F1 surely it would be possible. What blows me away is the F1 telecasts are not digital yet. Come on, leading edge?

  4. Good post. It’s something I’ve thought about myself in the past. The track was of course abandoned after Lauda’s crash on the consideration that it was to difficult to marshal or provide adequate medical facilities due to it’s length.

    But technology has moved in since 1976. With the ready availability of on site high tech medical facilities, helicopters and computer monitoring of the race (all of which were not in abundance in the 1970’s) surely the Nurburgring could be brought in line with safety standards.

    The facilities and infrastructure are all there of course thanks to the modern circuit so any investment is already taken care of in those departments. If F1 can afford close off and light up large chunks of downtown Singapore then surely it can afford to upgrade a few miles of tarmac and barriers?

    It seems simple enough on paper, but like you say, it’s probably a pipe dream.

  5. Tracks are having so much run off now! Bahrain mite aswell just be a 5 mile square peice of tarmac with a line that the cars must follow around.

    Did lauda crash into the forest and most of the damage was his car setting on fire? This doesnt happen in f1 and all tracks have safe barriers around them so it would be fine. If they just smoothed out the cracks in the road it could work. Never going to happen though

  6. And yes to the comment about a Laguna Seca GP!

  7. Andy Duncan
    23rd May 2008, 16:06

    The sheer cost of bringing the Nordschleif up to spec would be exceeded only by the spectacle of a race there. It would be fantastic and fantastically expensive.

    One thing is for certain though: re-grading and resurfacing the track, and creating all the necessary runoffs and barriers would forever change the Nordschleif.

  8. It would be the greatest race of all time for me… Just only thinking about the sensible car setup problem, trying to provide the extreme downforce needed through almost the entire track, and the need of top speed to gain seconds on the final straights,,,, how many differents strategies could be seen? Surely we would find who driver got the balls….

  9. theRoswellite
    23rd May 2008, 16:30

    Keith……….yes, yeS, yES, YES.

    Of all the issues surrounding F1 this is one that seems to slip past those……in power.

    Tracks have a HUGE import in the formation of the normal fans CONNECTION to the sport, only second to drivers. And , of course, that life time connection means….dollars to all those commercially connected to the sport.

    Gosh, what are the most famous races in the world? Indy, Le Mans 24 hrs, Monaco…..all defined by the track, and how about Spa, Monza, and the unreal Nurburgring!

    If this track could be returned to a “useful”, read safe, status, it would become the greatest track in the world….and then you could hold………….the greatest race in the world.(The German GP) Even I could figure out how to market that.

    Great idea Keith…………oh, Laguna Seca should be the permanent home of the USGP (right on “cyanide”). If you doubt the soundness of this suggestion, just visit the Monterey Bay area….you don’t need a reason to go there.(yes it would need to be updated….but it could be, if promised the USGP…cars & bikes…for say a couple of decades.

    Let’s hear it for track personality.

  10. Speaking of LeMans…. how great would it be to see the French GP being held on the Circuit de la Sarthe.

    What better a world championship would we have than:

    Nurburgring (north course) – German GP
    Circuit de la Sarthe – French GP
    Indianapolis (oval) – US GP (East)
    Laguna Seca – US GP (West)
    Suzuka – Japan GP
    Brands Hatch – British GP
    Monza (LONG course – w/ oval) – Italian GP
    + Current Monaco, Canadian, Brazilian, Singapore, Valencia, Turkish, Belgian and Australian GP’s

  11. Linking back to what Robert McKay was saying about F1 and NASCAR, why not have a one-off non-championship event at Laguna Seca as a showcase for F1? Staging an event at the most famous track in the US (apart from Indy) would surely bring American fans into F1.

  12. Scootin good idea. There should be history to the calender too. Its only Monaco, Spa and Monza that are real classics. Racing on at Monaco-Indy-Le Mans would be really cool. Wouldn’t count as the triple crown though :P

  13. I’d add Silverstone to that list – it did hold the first ever championship F1 race!

  14. “…most famous track in the US…”

    surely you must mean Indianapolis? No, oh, then you must mean Daytona? Texas? Bristol?

    I live 2 hrs from Watkins Glen, and the ‘general public’ hasn’t even heard of it (even though NASCAR goes there). The only “great” or “famous” tracks to the general public here are ovals.

    Of course most ‘car guys’ know about the road courses, but they aren’t the general public. If you want to attract the NASCAR fans in the US, you’ve gotta do it on an oval.

  15. I’d love to see more of the historic tracks updated to be run in the current calender. While a few of the newer tracks have provided some good racing, most don’t compare to the tracks of old. More elevation changes please. I’d love to see them go back to the Osterreichring too.

    As far as coverage in the US, no on tv, but that’s what the internet is for. Live feed here…

    There will also be video footage uploaded to GT TV if you own GT5P and a PS3.

  16. I’m sure the nurburgring is a great track, but the F1 GPs i saw on the full track were the dullest i’ve never seen…

    The track is too long so if any car/driver has an advantage in only one lap he builds a huge gap, and that makes closing pace for the others really hard.

    While i’d like to see the return of more elevation in F1 tracks (and laguna seca would be great) i don’t want to see nurburgring come back.

  17. Leaving aside the fact that you’d never find an F1 driver to do it, a modern F1 spec car will never run in competition on the Indy oval.

    Regarding the non-championship race in Laguna Seca, that’s a fascinating idea. Think of it this way, the manufacturers could put their money where their mouth is – prove to Bernie that there’re people there by putting their own money on the line and going racing. And heck, even if no one would pay Bernie’s blood money, run it anyway. I the manufacturers want to pay more than lip service to their desire to have an F1 race in the USA, put one there.

    (also, I live about 60 minutes from Indy so I strongly support the USGP returning there but to be honest I would gladly cede it to Laguna Seca for a chance to see modern cars go through the corkscrew in competition.)

  18. If they had a GP on the Nordschleife, they could charge whatever they want for admission, and I would pay.

  19. MJohnHurt wrote: ‘Leaving aside the fact that you’d never find an F1 driver to do it’

    If that’s true (which I doubt) then we simply need new drivers in F1.

  20. Robert McKay
    23rd May 2008, 18:41

    From a practical side of things, leaving aside the upgrading of the circuit, (possible, just expensive) it would be tough to marshal and keep the same level of safety of a normal F1 race. However, they manage to do it pretty well at Le Mans, so I don’t think it’s impossible. It’s tough to televise a bit as well, since you would have gaps at some sections, presumably, because having a camera on every corner just isn’t practical. However with decent onboards and a couple of helicopters, as opposed to just one, you could probably do it.

    I think a race there is a pipe dream at least for F1. I suspect some enterprising businessman may well try and set up a proper historic GP type racing series in the near future, either using an existing series or a new one, if the current move away from “traditional” tracks continues.

    But maybe realistically a sort of F1 time trial thing could be held there without too much effort? If the problem really is safety, having just one car at a time blasting round makes it easy for them if anything does go wrong. Might not quite be what we’d hope for but still I wouldn’t mind seeing something like that.

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