Nick Heidfeld drives the Nordschleife – part 1

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring

Okay, so news of Nick Heidfeld driving the BMW Sauber F1.06 around the Nordschleife is not new. It happened almost one year ago, on 28 April 2007, but chances are you won’t mind reliving that momentous day. Here at AUSringers we’ll help you do just that with this two part special.

(Image above: Nick Heidfeld enters the Karussell)

Amazingly, an estimated 45,000 people turned up at the Nürburgring to watch the BMW Sauber complete just three laps of the famous Grunne Hölle. Still, with a 31 year hiatus of Formula 1 cars on the Nordschleife, I guess there was always going to be great anticipation.

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring(Image above: Heidfeld negotiates the Kleiner-Karussell)

According to the BMW Sauber press release the car ran close to race trim, there were some minor suspension modifications to improve ground clearance for the relatively bumpy Nordschleife surface—the front axle was raised 4cm, the rear 8cm. The tyres used were demonstration only and accordingly had much less grip compared to tyres used for racing. A short ratio transmission was also used, although this was still good for a speed of 275km/h on the long Döttinger Höhe straight. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said: “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.”

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring

(Above left: The approach to Bergwerk; right: The Karussell)

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring

(Above: Nick Heidfeld exits the Karussell)

For the record, though, Heidfeld’s second lap was the fastest at 8 minutes 34 seconds. However, comparisons to any other known lap records are baseless for two reasons. First, a shortened version of the GP circuit was used, and second, on all three laps Nick slowed down to provide photo opportunities for the cameras—as you can see in this article, the images captured are stunning (click on images for larger versions). So, we are left to ponder what sort of a lap time an F1 car could set on the full Nürburgring track. It’s safe to say it would be somewhat faster than Stefan Bellof‘s best time of 6 minutes 11 seconds, which is acknowledged as the fastest lap ever at the Ring. You’d have to think an F1 car at full noise, on race spec tyres, would probably break the 6 minute barrier. Amazing!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s addition which will include some video footage from the day.

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring

(Above left: Exiting Brünnchen; right: approaching Eiskurve)

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring

(Above: Hatzenbach esses and entry to Hocheichen)

Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring Nick Heidfeld at Nürburgring

(Above left: Exiting Brünnchen; right: Entering GP circuit)

For more see Part 2.