Bring back the (real) Nurburgring

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???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

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34 comments on Bring back the (real) Nurburgring

    I have been to the Nurburgring on several occassions, it is one of the best spectator circuits, it is easily got to, it has excellent views of the track, the scenery is beautiful, the facilities are fantastic, and people are very welcoming.

    I would recommend the driving of the Nordschleife is something else.

    Bring it back, PLEASE

  2. Sush said on 24th May 2008, 16:44

    nice comments from all

    but your all forgetting one thing, money!, how much does the Nordschleife make in a formula one weekend?

    before you say sponsors! what is the cost of bringing the paddock to F1 standards?

    sorry to sound pessimistic (realistic) but i’d love F1 at the real Nurburgring. with the south too, not just the north circuit.

  3. verasaki said on 26th May 2008, 1:53

    i’d be happy if i could find a single word about what happened in this race without touching a keyboard. unfortunately, enduros seem to have been kicked to the kerb until june. it would be nice if this ends up adding a second jewel to a crown not yet built.

  4. I know this is a few months old, but we’re planning a ‘Ring trip and I ran across the site. While it’s an interesting fantasy, as everyone here realizes, it’ll never happen. I own a company that is building a very large motorsports complex so I’m able to comment on some of this with a degree of recent experience. We looked at F1 requirements but they’re outrageous — there is a reason the new tracks are not privately-funded efforts.

    Michael K brings up a great point, first of all: Implementing modern F1 requirements would essentially destroy the ‘Ring as we know it today. By the time they were finished, 90% of the reason for this exercise would have been eliminated.

    Ignoring the track changes, the facility requirements for F1 are truly staggering. A huge array of buildings, apartments, meeting areas, and other structures are required for each team. The broadcast support infrastructure, and accommodations for press and F1 officials all contribute many tens of millions of dollars to the cost of a facility. Granted some of these may exist at the current F1 course, but given F1’s uncompromising expectations, I question whether they’d find that acceptable.

    Then there are the track changes itself, which would cost many, many tens of millions. 13 miles through challenging terrain, the now-mandatory high-grip asphalt runoffs, barriers, access improvements, the grandstand requirements… it simply isn’t realistic.

    Finally, though, we get to the biggest nail in the coffin: TV. Television does not like long road races. All of the major sanctioning bodies are pushing for shorter tracks. 2.5 to 3 miles is considered optimal. If you watched Spa on Speed last week, you heard the announcers griping a bit about how the cars got spread out on a track that was only about 4 miles long. Imagine 20 cars floating around by themselves on a 13 mile track.

    That’s the primary difference between racing today and racing in the 70s. In the 70s it was for the fans who went to races. Today it’s for the fans who record the race on their Tivo then watch it a few hours later when it’s convenient, never getting anywhere near the track itself.

    As for there being hundreds of millions involved with F1, the fact is that those dollars are committed. There are hundreds of tracks that could be upgraded for a lot less money, all run by track owners that would dearly love to run even a single F1 race if F1 teams were footing the bill. It doesn’t work that way.

    I love to dream about it just as much as anybody here, but it won’t happen.

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