The Nürburgring is a motor racing circuit near Nürburg, Ahrweiler in West-Central Germany. The circuit was one of two circuits which currently play host to the German Grand Prix, before falling into bankruptcy in 2015. The Nürburgring was used in odd-numbered years, with the though no German Grand Prix was held at either circuit in 2015 and 2017, seasons alloted to the Nürburgring. The circuit has also hosted the Luxembourg Grand Prix and European Grand Prix in the past.
The circuit has undergone several major changes in its history, from the 22.8km Nordschleife and 28.3km Gesamtstrecke to the 5.148km GP-Strecke which is used currently. The Nordschleife layout, used for 22 Formula One World Championship events between 1951 and 1976, is second only to the Pescara Circuit in Italy in terms of the longest circuits ever used in F1.
The current layout of the GP-Strecke was first used in 2002, and has been used nine times since. After an absence in Formula One for seven years, it was announced on July 24 that the circuit will host as the 11th round of the 2020 Formula One Season, the race named as the Eifel Grand Prix, replacing the canceled races due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 1 Circuit History
- 2 Previous Layouts
- 3 Current Layouts
- 4 Event history
- 5 Notes
The Nürburgring was designed in the early-1920s by German architect, Gustav Eichler to alleviate the use of public roads for racing, a practice which was seen as dangerous. Construction of the original 28km track began in September 1925 and took just a year and a half to complete. The Gesamtstrecke officially opened in 18th June 1927 with a series of motorcycle and sidecar races, with motorcar races taking to the new track the following day. Among the winners of the car races was Rudolf Caracciola, who would become three-time European Champion over the next 21 years. The full length circuit was used for the last time in 1929, after which the majority of races were held on the slightly shorter Nordschleife. The Sudschleife would continue to be used by motorcycle races and minor events (including the Formula Two 1960 German Grand Prix) until 1973 when it was abandoned.
From 1929, the German Grand Prix was held on the Nordschleife as part of the European Championship until the event joined the Formula One World Championship in 1951 until 1954. The 1954 event was marred by the death of Onofre Marimón during practice.
In 1955, in the wake of the Le Mans disaster, the German Grand Prix was cancelled, along with the French, Spanish and Swiss Grands Prix. The German Grand Prix returned to the Nürburgring in 1956 where it continued for three years.
At the 1958 German Grand Prix, Peter Collins was killed when his Ferrari Dino 246 ran wide into a ditch and was propelled into the air. Collins was thrown out of the vehicle and struck a tree, causing fatal head injuries.
Following a year at AVUS and a Formula 2 event at the Sudschleife in 1960, Formula One returned to the Nürburgring in 1961 where is would stay for the remainder of the decade. During this time, two Formula One drivers were killed at the circuit: Carel Godin de Beaufort in 1964 and John Taylor in 1966.
Nordschleife ("North Loop")
The grandmaster of the classic circuits, this originally measured 22.810 km (14.173 mi) and was claimed to have more than 170 corners, although close to half were gentle kinks that could be straightlined at speed. Another claim that was absolutely true was the elevation change of more than 300 m (1,000 ft)
Südschleife ("South Loop")
The South Loop was decidedly the lesser of the two main circuits. Measuring 7.747 km (4.814 mi), it was fairly quick but relatively flat, and not seen to be as challenging as the North Loop. It was used once for the Formula Two-only 1960 German GP, won by Jo Bonnier in a Porsche.
The early 1980s reconstruction of the track has permanently disabled this circuit, but the remaining portion is now a public road, mostly used for access to the grandstands for the GP circuit. It is still popular with bicyclists, and fans wishing to explore racing history.
In 2005, a pair of minor track additions allowed for a re-use of most of the Südschleife for a vintage car parade (no racing or passing), with the actual racing of the weekend held on the GP-Strecke. This configuration has been used several times since at vintage events.
Betonschleife ("Concrete Loop")
This was the shortest possible course, taking both 'short cuts' around the start/finish and pits. Measuring 2.281 km (1.417 mi), it paired the Sudkurve of the Nordschleife and Nordkurve of the Sudschleife, and could be lapped in under a minute in Formula One.
There are some sketchy references to touring car races being held on this course, but no actual records are online. Other than the start/finish straight being in approximately the same location, no part of this configuration currently exists.
Gesamtstrecke ("Whole Course")
This referred to the combined Nordschleife and Südschleife, with neither of the concrete 'short cuts' in use. This configuration measured 28.265 km (17.563 mi) but was rarely used.
The idea for the GP-Strecke came out of a desire to return the German Grand Prix to a manageable form of the Nürburgring. Alterations to the Nordeschleife of the type needed were deemed impossible, due to the proximity of the mountain upon which the Castle Nürburg rests. So the area enclosed by the little-used Südschleife became the proposed location.
The design that evolved came from several conditions: use of the same location for the start/finish and pits; a total length of less that five km; maximum safety; permanent seating for most spectators; minimum disruption of the remaining Nordeschleife; optimal TV viewing; and multiple shorter configurations for other facing classes.
The new track, opened in late 1983, had a rebuilt start/finish straight on almost exactly the same line as the old one. But this straight is considerable shorter, at about 0.7 km, and beginning a downhill section. It ends at a pair of turns called Castrol-S, which are a sharp, 80° right, followed immediately by a wider and sweeping 110° left. A shorter straight (which includes a bridge over a local road) brings the cars into the "stadium section", where the entire area is enclosed by low grandstands. Entering the section they hit a quick 90° left (Valvoline-Kurve), then after a very short downhill straight they continue to drop through a tricky 120° right (Ford-Kurve). This is followed by a downhill straight of 0.4 km, that actually arcs about 20°, but is taken flat out. at the end is a fairly tight 190° right (Dunlop-Kehre, kehre = sweep) that is the lowest point on the circuit.
A shorter uphill straight is followed by Shell-Kurve, a very quick left-right combo. The straight following leaves the stadium section while travelling parallel to and about 100 meters from the straight after Castrol-S. (There is also a connecting 180° right, to create a shorter course, cutting out the stadium section.) The straight ends at a fast but tricky 80° left, called RTL-Kurve. This is followed by a short straight, just long enough to set up for Bit-Kurve, a 110° right leading to the back straight.
The so-called back straight is about as long as the pit straight, but has a sweeping 30° right (Hatzenbachbogen, bogen = rise or hump) not quite halfway along. This is taken as fast as the driver is brave enough to go, and many have gone beyond their limits here. It ends with the moderately quick left-right Veedol-Schikane. Keeping to the left, the cars take a very short straight to the final curve, a 150° right known as Romer-Kurve. This is the highest part of the circuit, and the Romer-Kurve itself passes less than 100 meters from the new cutoff road of the Nordschleife. Pit in is just before Romer-Kurve, and the pits extend almost the entire length of the front straight.
As originally built, the GP-Strecke is 4.551 km/2.828 miles long. Using the 180° right after the Castrol-S creates a track of 3.039 km/1.888 miles.
For the 1990 season the track saw some minor modifications. Another 180° right cutoff was created, just southwest of the first, to create a stadium section-only track. This is known as the Müllenbachschleife, and measures 1.489 km/0.925 miles. The entry to the pits was altered to have an alternative to the chicane just before the actual pit boxes. And the Romer-Kurve was renamed as the Coca Cola-Kurve.
1995 saw another small modification, intended specifically for Formula 1. Just a few meters before the Veedol-Schikane, another slower and tighter chicane was constructed. During F1 races this became the Veedol-Schikane, and the old chicane (still used for most other races) was used as an escape road. Just before that on the track, the Hatzenbachbogen was renamed the ITT-Bogen. Length of the new F1 circuit increased slightly to 4.556 km/2.831 miles.
Around this time a new two-tiered grandstand section was constructed, overlooking the Castrol-S. But instead of forming a bowl with a concave floorplan, it was built as a convex stand, almost like a slice of a wedding cake.
The track had one major alteration to it, which changed the character of the entire GP-Strecke. The start-finish straight was lengthened by roughly 50 meters, but with the last 100 making a very gentle 10° kink. This is now followed by a very sharp, 135° right (called Haug-Haken, haken = hook)), with a very short straight leading to a wider 135° left. This was followed by a 100 meter very gentle left arc, then by a 180° left, and finally a very tight 90° right, leading onto the extended straight into the stadium section. The whole complex was called the Mercedes Arena, and while creating a very tight and technical section next to the paddock, gave the cars a longer and faster straight into the stadium section. Races not using the full Mercedes Arena found the cutoff road (the former Castrol-S) rebuilt to a slow tight, right-left chicane with each corner about 120°.
Several corners were also renamed. Shell-Kurve became Audi-S, RTL-Kurve was now Michelon-Kurve, and Veedol-Schikane was changed to NGK-Schikane. The GP-Strecke with the Mercedes Arena was now 5.143 km/3.196 miles, and without it was 4.574 km/2.842 miles.
For the 2003 season, the track had the last set of changes to date. The only actual change to the course involved tightening the F1 version of the NGK-Schikane, which lengthened the track slightly to 5.148 km/3.199 miles. Three corners had new names, with the Audi-S becoming the Michael-Schumacher-S, the Bit-Kurve now the Warsteiner-Kurve, and the former ITT-Bogen becoming ADVAN-Bogen.
This is the course using the sweeping right 180° cutoff just before the stadium section. Used primarily for amateur racing, the track length is 3.039 km/1.888 miles.
This configuration is entirely within the stadium section. Just after the Michael-Schumacher-S, the course makes a very sharp, 150° right, followed quickly by a 100° left and a 60° right to rejoin the track just past the ValVoline-Kurve. Despite the change of the cutoff road, the track length was unchanged.
The following is a list of Grand Prix events held at the Nürburgring, with a rose background meaning a non-championship event, and a yellow for the pre-war European Championship:
|V T E||German Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Nürburgring (1951–1954, 1956–1958, 1960–1969, 1971–1976, 1985, 2007–2013*), AVUS (1959), Hockenheimring (1970, 1977–1984, 1986–2006, 2007–2014*, 2016, 2018–2019)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969 • 1970 • 1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978 • 1979 • 1980 • 1981 • 1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986 • 1987 • 1988 • 1989 • 1990 • 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013 • 2014 • 2015 • 2016 • 2017 • 2018 • 2019 • 2020 •|
|* Nürburgring and Hockenheimring alternated between each other during these years.|
|V T E||Eifel Grand Prix|
|V T E||European Grand Prix|
|Circuits||Brands Hatch (1983, 1985), Nürburgring (1984, 1995–1996, 1999–2007), Donington (1993), Jerez (1994, 1997), Valencia (2008–2012), Baku (2016)|
|Races||1950 • 1951 • 1952 • 1953 • 1954 • 1955 • 1956 • 1957 • 1958 • 1959 • 1960 • 1961 • 1962 • 1963 • 1964 • 1965 • 1966 • 1967 • 1968 • 1969–1971 • 1972 • 1973 • 1974 • 1975 • 1976 • 1977 • 1978–1982 • 1983 • 1984 • 1985 • 1986–1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000 • 2001 • 2002 • 2003 • 2004 • 2005 • 2006 • 2007 • 2008 • 2009 • 2010 • 2011 • 2012 • 2013–2015 • 2016|
|Non-Championship Races||1923 • 1924 • 1925 • 1926 • 1927 • 1928 • 1929 • 1930 • 1931–1946 • 1947 • 1948 • 1949|
|V T E||Luxembourg Grand Prix|
|Races||1997 • 1998|
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