Nurburgring: The Ultimate Track Guide

Formula 1 makes its return to the Nurburgring in 2020. The original layout of the circuit first hosted an F1 race in 1951, while the current layout was first utilised in 1984. Here’s everything you need to know about the Nurburgring!


FIRST F1 RACE 1951
TRACK LENGTH 3.199 miles
NUMBER OF LAPS 60
NUMBER OF TURNS 15
MOST POLES Jim Clark (4)
MOST WINS Michael Schumacher (5)

Though Germany’s plans to build a new all-conquering circuit were first made twenty years previously, construction on the Nurburgring began in 1925. Dr Otto Creutz, chair of the ADAC (Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobile Club), was instrumental in the project getting off the ground. With Germany defeated in World War I, and the country facing the hardships of unemployment and inflation, plans for the circuit were approved on the basis that its construction would help to lower the area’s unemployment levels. 3,000 workers were employed to build the circuit. Hans Weidenbrück designed the original layout of the track. In its early years, the circuit was used extensively by the resurging German motoring industry – the fearsome 21km track being the perfect place to put new machinery to the ultimate test.

The Nurburgring is located near the Eifel mountains, in western Germany. The Nurburg castle stands within the north loop of the track. The circuit opened in June 1927, with a motorcycle race, while the German Grand Prix was first held at the track one month later. The event would continue to be held at the Nurburgring until the onset of World War II. The circuit soon established itself as the toughest circuit to master – not least because of its 172 corners and massive elevation changes. The north loop (better known as the Nordschleife) was 22km long, while the south loop (the Südschleife) was 8km long. The two loops could be combined to make a 28km circuit, but this layout was rarely used after 1930.

The circuit was damaged in World War II, but racing resumed in 1947. Four years later, Formula 1 made its first visit to the Nurburgring for the 1951 German Grand Prix. Alberto Ascari had won a non-championship Formula Two race here in 1950, and he would win again in 1951. From 1951 to 1976, the Nurburgring would host all but three German Grands Prix: the event was not held in 1955 following the Le Mans disaster; the event was held at AVUS in 1959; and the event was moved to Hockenheim due to safety concerns in 1970.

Between 1954 and 1969, five drivers (Onofre Marimon, Peter Collins, Carel Godin de Beaufort, John Taylor and Gerhard Mitter) and one marshal (Günther Schneider) had been killed as a result of incidents in Formula 1 races at the circuit. Increased speeds and a heightened awareness of driver safety led to various changes being made at the circuit in the 1960s – the first of those being the addition of a chicane in 1967. By 1970, the drivers still felt the circuit was not safe enough, and thus boycotted the venue. While the 1970 German Grand Prix was held at Hockenheim, F1 returned to the Nurburgring in the following season. New guardrails had been added, dangerous trees felled and wider grass verges had been installed, all in an effort to improve track safety. Further changes were made, but the dangers of the circuit – and the problems of ineffective marshalling and medical care – came to light once more in 1976, when reigning World Champion Niki Lauda suffered a near-fatal crash. The Austrian survived, but this was the final straw for F1’s tenure at the circuit which Jackie Stewart had nicknamed the “Green Hell”.

When F1 did eventually return to the Nurburgring in 1984, it did so on a much different track. It was not feasible to redesign the Nordschleife in line with the demands of a modern venue so instead, work began on modernising the south loop of the track. The new circuit layout was decided upon by 1982, and the first race on the new track was held in May 1984. The race in question was a race of Mercedes saloon cars, driven by F1 drivers. Young Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna won the first race on the new layout.

The circuit played host to the 1984 European Grand Prix and the 1985 German Grand Prix. Though the circuit’s safety standards were commended by the drivers, the layout proved to be unpopular, and F1 did not return to the circuit until ten years later. Michael Schumacher is to thank for the sport’s return to the venue. With the German’s popularity on the rise, the addition of a second race in Germany was sure to bring in plenty of spectators. The circuit hosted the European Grand Prix through to 2007, with Schumacher winning five of the races in that period. The Nurburgring signed a deal to host the German Grand Prix along with Hockenheim in alternate years from 2007 (though due to naming disputes, the 2007 Nurburgring race was titled the European Grand Prix). The venue hosted the 2009, 2011 and 2013 German Grands Prix – but would fall off the calendar thereafter, leaving Hockenheim as the sole host of the German event.

As a result of calendar changes due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Nurburgring returns to the Formula 1 calendar after a seven-year absence. For its one-off return, the circuit will host the Eifel Grand Prix – the eleventh round of the 2020 season.


FAST FACTS

  • During World War II, some of the circuit’s amenities were used to house evacuees from bombed German cities, and later became a military hospital.
  • Mika Hakkinen picked up two pit lane speeding penalties at the 1996 European Grand Prix due to a faulty pit limiter.
  • Finnish World Champions Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen both secured their first pole positions at the Nurburgring.
  • The Nurburgring was one of the first racing circuits to have a telephone communication system around the track. The original ten marshalling posts were all connected by telephone. It was also the first circuit in the world to have an electronic scoring tower, which was built in 1954.
  • Giuseppe Farina is the oldest driver to win a Formula 1 race single-handedly. He won the 1953 German Grand Prix at the age of 46 years and nine months.
  • Polesitter David Coulthard spun off on his way to the grid at the Nurburgring in 1995, meaning he had to start the race in the spare car.
  • The 1985 German Grand Prix, held at the Nurburgring, is the last time that a team entered three cars for an F1 race. Renault entered their usual two drivers plus François Hesnault, who drove the first F1 car to be equipped with an onboard camera.
  • Michael Schumacher’s car came to a halt on his way to the grid for the 2001 European Grand Prix. He was forced to take a scooter back to the pits and start in Ferrari’s spare car.
  • Onofre Marimón was the first driver to be killed at a World Championship F1 event. He lost his life at the Nurburgring, in practice for the 1954 German Grand Prix.
  • In 2020, the Nurburgring will become the first venue to have hosted Formula 1 races with four different event titles: the German Grand Prix, the European Grand Prix, the Luxembourg Grand Prix and the Eifel Grand Prix.

🇩🇪 NURBURGRING POLESITTERS AND WINNERS

 PolesitterTeam On PoleWinnerWinning Team
1951Alberto AscariFerrariAlberto AscariFerrari
1952Alberto AscariFerrariAlberto AscariFerrari
1953Alberto AscariFerrariGiuseppe FarinaFerrari
1954Juan Manuel FangioMercedesJuan Manuel FangioMercedes
1956Juan Manuel FangioFerrariJuan Manuel FangioFerrari
1957Juan Manuel FangioMaseratiJuan Manuel FangioMaserati
1958Mike HawthornFerrariTony BrooksVanwall
1961Phil HillFerrariStirling MossLotus
1962Dan GurneyPorscheGraham HillBRM
1963Jim ClarkLotusJohn SurteesFerrari
1964John SurteesFerrariJohn SurteesFerrari
1965Jim ClarkLotusJim ClarkLotus
1966Jim ClarkLotusJack BrabhamBrabham
1967Jim ClarkLotusDenny HulmeBrabham
1968Jacky IckxFerrariJackie StewartMatra
1969John SurteesFerrariJacky IckxBrabham
1971Jackie StewartTyrrellJackie StewartTyrrell
1972Jacky IckxFerrariJacky IckxFerrari
1973Jackie StewartTyrrellJackie StewartTyrrell
1974Niki LaudaFerrariClay RegazzoniFerrari
1975Niki LaudaFerrariCarlos ReutemannBrabham
1976James HuntMcLarenJames HuntMcLaren
1984Nelson PiquetBrabhamAlain ProstMcLaren
1985Teo FabiTolemanMichele AlboretoFerrari
1995David CoulthardWilliamsMichael SchumacherBenetton
1996Damon HillWilliamsJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1997Mika HakkinenMcLarenJacques VilleneuveWilliams
1998Michael SchumacherFerrariMika HakkinenMcLaren
1999Heinz Harald FrentzenJordanJohnny HerbertStewart
2000David CoulthardMcLarenMichael SchumacherFerrari
2001Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2002Juan Pablo MontoyaWilliamsRubens BarrichelloFerrari
2003Kimi RaikkonenMcLarenRalf SchumacherWilliams
2004Michael SchumacherFerrariMichael SchumacherFerrari
2005Nick HeidfeldWilliamsFernando AlonsoRenault
2006Fernando AlonsoRenaultMichael SchumacherFerrari
2007Kimi RaikkonenFerrariFernando AlonsoMcLaren
2009Mark WebberRed BullMark WebberRed Bull
2011Mark WebberRed BullLewis HamiltonMcLaren
2013Lewis HamiltonMercedesSebastian VettelRed Bull
2020Valtteri BottasMercedesLewis HamiltonMercedes