The Nürburgring is a 150,000-capacity motorsports complex located in the village of Nürburg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It features a Grand Prix race track built in 1984, and a much longer old ""North loop"" track which was built in the 1920s around the village and medieval castle of Nürburg in the Eifel mountains. The north loop is 20.8 km (12.9 mi) long and has more than 300 metres (1,000 feet)
of elevation change from its lowest to highest points. Jackie Stewart nicknamed the old track ""The Green Hell"".
Originally, the track featured four configurations: the 28.265 km (17.563 mi)-long Gesamtstrecke (""Whole Course""), which in turn consisted of the 22.810 km (14.173 mi) Nordschleife (""North Loop""), and the 7.747 km (4.814 mi) Südschleife (""South Loop""). There also was a 2.281 km (1.417 mi) warm-up loop called Zielschleife (""Finish Loop"") or Betonschleife (""Concrete Loop""), around the pit area.
Between 1982 and 1983 the start/finish area was demolished to create a new GP-Strecke, and this is used for all major and international racing events. However, the shortened Nordschleife is still in use for racing, testing and public access.
1925–1939: The beginning of the ""Nürburg-Ring"" In the early 1920s, ADAC Eifelrennen races were held on public roads in the Eifel mountains. This was soon recognised as impractical and dangerous. The construction of a dedicated race track was proposed, following the examples of Italy's Monza and Targa Florio courses, and Berlin's AVUS, yet with a different character. The layout of the circuit in the mountains was similar to the Targa Florio
event, one of the most important motor races at that time. The original Nürburgring was to be a showcase for German automotive engineering and racing talent. Construction of the track, designed by the Eichler Architekturbüro from Ravensburg (led by architect Gustav Eichler), began in September 1925.
The track was completed in spring of 1927, and the ADAC Eifelrennen races were continued there. The first races to take place on 18 June 1927 showed motorcycles and sidecars. The first motorcycle race was won by Toni Ulmen on an English 350 cc Velocette. The cars followed a day later, and Rudolf Caracciola was the winner of the over 5000 cc class in a Mercedes Compressor. In addition,
the track was opened to the public in the evenings and on weekends, as a one-way toll road. The whole track consisted of 174 bends (prior to 1971 changes), and averaged 8 to 9 metres (26 to 30 ft) in width. The fastest time ever around the full Gesamtstrecke was by Louis Chiron, at an average speed of 112.31 km/h (72 mph) in his Bugatti.
In 1929 the full Nürburgring was used for the last time in major racing events, as future Grands Prix would be held only on the Nordschleife. Motorcycles and minor races primarily used the shorter and safer Südschleife. Memorable pre-war races at the circuit featured the talents of early Ringmeister (Ringmasters) such as Rudolf Caracciola, Tazio Nuvolari and Bernd Rosemeyer.
1947–1970: The Green Hell After World War II, racing resumed in 1947 and in 1951, the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring again became the main venue for the German Grand Prix as part of the Formula One World Championship (with the exception of 1959, when it was held on the AVUS in Berlin).
A new group of Ringmeister arose to dominate the race – Alberto Ascari, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Jim Clark, John Surtees, Jackie Stewart and Jacky Ickx.
On 5 August 1961, during practice for the 1961 German Grand Prix, Phil Hill became the first person to complete a lap of the Nordschleife in under 9 minutes, with a lap of 8 minutes 55.2 seconds (153.4 km/h or 95.3 mph) in the Ferrari 156 ""Sharknose"" Formula One car.
Over half a century later, the highest-performing road cars have difficulty breaking 8 minutes without a professional race driver or one very familiar with the track. Also, several rounds of the German motorcycle Grand Prix were held, mostly on the 7.7 km (4.8 mi) Südschleife, but the Hockenheimring and the Solitudering were the main sites for Grand Prix motorcycle racing.
In 1953, the ADAC 1000 km Nürburgring race was introduced, an Endurance race and Sports car racing event that counted towards the World Sportscar Championship for decades. The 24 Hours Nürburgring for touring car racing was added in 1970.
By the late 1960s, the Nordschleife and many other tracks were becoming increasingly dangerous for the latest generation of F1 cars. In 1967, a chicane was added before the start/finish straight, called Hohenrain, in order to reduce speeds at the pit lane entry. This made the track 25 m (82 ft) longer.
Even this change, however, was not enough to keep Stewart from nicknaming it ""The Green Hell"" following his victory in the 1968 German Grand Prix amid a driving rainstorm and thick fog. In 1970, after the fatal crash of Piers Courage at Zandvoort, the F1 drivers decided at the French Grand Prix to boycott the Nürburgring unless major changes were made, as they did at Spa the year before.
The changes were not possible on short notice, and the German GP was moved to the Hockenheimring, which had already been modified.
1971–1983: Changes In accordance with the demands of the F1 drivers the Nordschleife was reconstructed by taking out some bumps, smoothing out some sudden jumps (particularly at Brünnchen), and installing Armco safety barriers. The track was made straighter, following the race line, which reduced the number of corners.
The German GP could be hosted at the Nürburgring again, and was for another six years from 1971 to 1976.
In 1973 the entrance into the dangerous and bumpy Kallenhard corner was made slower by adding another left-hand corner after the fast Metzgesfeld sweeping corner. Safety was improved again later on, e.g. by removing the jumps on the long main straight and widening it, and taking away the bushes right next to the track at the main straight, which made that section of the Nürburgring dangerously
narrow. A second series of three more F1 races was held until 1976. However, primarily due to its length of over 22 kilometres (14 mi), and the lack of space due to its situation on the sides of the mountains, increasing demands by the F1 drivers and the FIA's CSI commission were too expensive or impossible to meet.
For instance, by the 1970s the German Grand Prix required five times the marshals and medical staff as a typical F1 race, something the German organizers were unwilling to provide. Additionally, even with the 1971 modifications it was still possible for cars to become airborne off the track.
The Nürburgring was also unsuitable for the burgeoning television market; its vast expanse made it almost impossible to effectively cover a race there. As a result, early in the season it was decided that the 1976 race would be the last to be held on the old circuit.
Niki Lauda, the reigning world champion and only person ever to lap the full 22,835-metre (14.189 mi) Nordschleife in under 7 minutes (6:58.6, 1975), proposed to the other drivers that they boycott the circuit in 1976.
Lauda was not only concerned about the safety arrangements and the lack of marshals around the circuit, but did not like the prospect of running the race in another rainstorm- usually when that happened, some parts of the circuit were wet and other parts were dry, which is what the conditions of the circuit were for that race.
The other drivers voted against the idea and the race went ahead. Lauda crashed in his Ferrari coming out of the left-hand kink before Bergwerk, for causes that were never established. He was badly burned as his car was still loaded with fuel in lap 2. Lauda was saved by the combined actions of fellow drivers Arturo Merzario, Guy Edwards, Brett Lunger, and Harald Ertl, rather than by the ill-equipped track marshals.
The crash also showed that the track's distances were too long for regular fire engines and ambulances, even though the ""ONS-Staffel"" was equipped with a Porsche 911 rescue car, marked (R). The old Nürburgring never hosted another F1 race again, as the German Grand Prix was moved to the Hockenheimring for 1977.
The German motorcycle Grand Prix was held for the last time on the old Nürburgring in 1980, also permanently moving to Hockenheim.
By its very nature, the Nordschleife was impossible to make safe in its old configuration. It soon became apparent that it would have to be completely overhauled if there was any prospect of Formula One returning there. With this in mind, in 1981 work began on a 4.5 km (2.8 mi)-long new circuit, which was built on and around the old pit area.
At the same time, a bypass shortened the Nordschleife to 20,832 m (12.944 mi), and with an additional small pit lane, this version was used for races in 1983, e.g. the 1000km Nürburgring endurance race, while construction work was going on nearby.
In training for that race, the late Stefan Bellof set the all-time lap record for the 20.8 km (12.9 mi) Nordschleife in his Porsche 956, which is still unbeaten at 6:11.13, or over 200 km/h (120 mph) on average (partially because no major racing has taken place there since 1984).
Meanwhile, more run-off areas were added at corners like Aremberg and Brünnchen, where originally there were just embankments protected by Armco barriers. The track surface was made safer in some spots where there had been nasty bumps and jumps.
Racing line markers were added to the corners all around the track as well. Also, bushes and hedges at the edges of corners were taken out and replaced with Armco and grass.
The former Südschleife had not been modified in 1970/71 and was abandoned a few years later in favour of the improved Nordschleife. It is now mostly gone (in part due to the construction of the new circuit) or converted to a normal public road, but since 2005 a vintage car event has been hosted on the old track layout, including part of the parking area.
1984: The new Grand Prix track The new track was completed in 1984 and named GP-Strecke (German: Großer Preis-Strecke: literally, ""Grand Prix Course""). It was built to meet the highest safety standards. However, it was considered in character a mere shadow of its older sibling. Some fans, who had to sit much farther away from the track, called it Eifelring, Ersatzring, Grünering or
similar nicknames, believing it did not deserve to be called Nürburgring. Like many circuits of the time, it offered few overtaking opportunities.
Prior to the 2013 German Grand Prix both Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton said they like the track. Webber described the layout as ""an old school track"" before adding, ""It’s a beautiful little circuit for us to still drive on so I think all the guys enjoy driving here."" While Hamilton said ""It’s a fantastic circuit, one of the classics and it hasn’t lost that feel of an old classic circuit.""
To celebrate its opening, an exhibition race was held, on 12 May, featuring an array of notable drivers. Driving identical Mercedes 190E 2.3–16's, the line-up was Elio de Angelis, Jack Brabham (Formula 1 World Champion 1959, 1960, 1966), Phil Hill (1961), Denis Hulme (1967), James Hunt (1976), Alan Jones (1980), Jacques Laffite, Niki Lauda (1975, 1977)*, Stirling Moss, Alain Prost*,
Carlos Reutemann, Keke Rosberg (1982), Jody Scheckter (1979), Ayrton Senna*, John Surtees (1964) and John Watson. Senna won ahead of Lauda, Reutemann, Rosberg, Watson, Hulme and Jody Scheckter, being the only one to resist Lauda's overwhelming performance who – having missed the qualifying – had to start from the last row and overtook all the others except Senna.
The asterisk ( * ) in the previous paragraph indicate that titles which were not yet won at the time of the race are not mentioned here, so there were nine former and two future Formula 1 World Champions competing, in a field of 20 cars with 16 Formula 1 drivers; the other four were local drivers: Klaus Ludwig, Manfred Schurti, Udo Schütz and Hans Herrmann.
Besides other major international events, the Nürburgring has seen the brief return of Formula One racing, as the 1984 European Grand Prix was held at the track, followed by the 1985 German Grand Prix. As F1 did not stay, other events were the highlights at the new Nürburgring, including the 1000km Nürburgring, DTM, motorcycles, and newer types of events, like truck racing, vintage car racing
at the AvD ""Oldtimer Grand Prix"", and even the ""Rock am Ring"" concerts.
Following the success and first world championship of Michael Schumacher, a second German F1 race was held at the Nürburgring between 1995 and 2006, called the European Grand Prix, or in 1997 and 1998, the Luxembourg Grand Prix.
For 2002, the track was changed, by replacing the former ""Castrol-chicane"" at the end of the start/finish straight with a sharp right-hander (nicknamed ""Haug-Hook""), in order to create an overtaking opportunity. Also, a slow Omega-shaped section was inserted, on the site of the former kart track. This extended the GP track from 4,500 to 5,200 m (2.80 to 3.23 mi), while at the same time, the