German racing driver Nick Heidfeld had the unique opportunity to drive the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife in a modern-spec Formula One racing car as part of a BMW Motorsport demonstration run.
Heidfeld drove last year’s BMW Sauber F1.06 chassis around the fantastic 20.8km race track (which also includes the new Grand Prix circuit) and despite slowing down for photographic purposes several times on each of his three laps, he set a time of eight minutes and 34 seconds. This lap time was not a real representation of what a modern F1 car can really do, as BMW ordered his driver to ease off at several parts of the track…
Apart from using the harder tyres (which offered low grip) and an increased ride height, the car was in full race specification.
“This drive was simply incredible,” said Heidfeld. “I thought it would be great to drive on the Nordschleife before I started out. But it was even better than I had expected.
“This racing track is the best in the world. I’d really like to have emptied the tank. It was a very special moment when I left the grand prix circuit in the direction of the Nordschleife.”
Heidfeld achieved a top speed of 275 km/h on the long Döttinger Höhe straight.
“I was really shaken up at the Bergwerk section and on the Döttinger Höhe,” he said.
“I’ll never forget today as long as I live. Another particularly special experience has now joined the many fantastic childhood memories and racing successes.”
BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen reiterated that the event had always been intended as a ‘tribute’ to the legendary track rather than an attempt to set a new lap record.
“We had implored him to be careful,” said Theissen.
“The day was a homage to the fans and to this unique circuit in the world of racing. For once, the lap times were a secondary consideration.”
Nevertheless, to see a modern Formula One racing car back on this amazing race track after 31 long years was a sight to behold.