How fast would a F1 car lap the Nurburgring?
On 28 April 2007, Nick Heidfeld drove a BMW Sauber F1.06 Formula One car around the Nordschleife, on a BMW publicity day in combination with a VLN 4h endurance race. For safety reasons, BMW announced that the car was slowed with hard demonstration tires, maximum ride height, and 275 km/h top speed limited by the transmission. Heidfeld drove three laps on the combined Nordschleife and short GP-track, as used in VLN races, with a track length of 24.433 km (so comparison with older records is difficult). The official lap time released by BMW Sauber was declared to be 8:34 (thus ca. 30 secs slower than the fastest Porsche 996 turbo in VLN). The German press duly reported this lap time, yet criticized BMW. In each lap, Heidfeld slowed down once to pose for a slow video truck, at Schwedenkreuz on the first lap 1, Kesselchen in lap 2, and Döttinger Höhe in the last lap. The two time spans in between the three passes of Heidfeld were clocked by some fans around the track, first Wehrseifen to Wehrseifen in about 7:28, then 7:22 from Klostertal to Klostertal, which is over 50 secs quicker than the fastest current Porsche 997 GT3 RSR in VLN. This translates to an average of about 200 km/h, similar to Bellof’s record, but considering the slow GP section; Heidfeld probably was faster on the Nordschleife, close to 6 minutes. Fans who respect the official record of the late Stefan Bellof settle for an “estimated 6:12”.
Road & Track magazine reported Heidfeld’s lap was a 5:57 or 5:58 (for the Nordschleife only), breaking the track’s six-minute barrier for the first time in history. However, their times were done by measuring the speed in some corners, and then calculating a lap time, and not timing a full lap. A BMW video montage with onboard, track side and helicopter camera views gives a better estimate of 6 minutes 40 seconds to the last corner.
Heidfeld has since expressed his desire to repeat the experience with less restriction.
According to F1 Racing magazine of June 2006, BMW engineers had estimated that a BMW-Sauber F1.06 could lap in under 5:15.8, which equals to an average of 237 km/h.
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