Timo Bernhard driving a Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo has blitzed the Nurburgring-Nordschleife lap record lowering the benchmark time to a 5:19.55 around the legendary German circuit dubbed the Green Hell.
The previous lap record around the 20.8 km track was held by the late Stefan Bellof at the wheel of a Porsche 956C. Bellof’s lap time was amazing in itself considering it was set 35 years ago.
However, on Thursday, Bernhard stepped into the cockpit of the 919 and hooked up a superb lap, hitting 370 kph on the daunting Döttinger Höhe straight, but it was his speed through the 73 corners/bends, several of them tight hair-pins combined with treacherous sweeps and fast straights, that made the difference.
Porsche converted their WEC rules based Le Mans 24-Hour race winning car (Le Mans winner 2015, 2016 and 2017) to a full-blown and unrestricted version of the 919 Hybrid Evo, the same car that powered to the Spa-Francorchamps outright lap record earlier this year.
Without regulations limiting them, Porsche turned it up to the max, delivering a combined 1,160 horsepower from its four-cylinder gas engine and its electric motors.
Bernard said afterwards, “It’s probably the most challenging track on Earth. We showed today you can drive a car like this here properly. It was not a walk in the park, certainly not, it was quite exciting but exhausting, too.”
“I wanted to keep focused and treat it like qualifying or a race weekend. The speed of the car is so high, there’s no runoff, no room for mistakes. We achieved what we wanted to achieve today,” added the new Nurby record holder.
Porsche’s feat even impressed Mercedes chief Toto Wolff, who commented, “It’s obviously incredible, what they have achieved, 5:19 is almost a minute faster than Bellof did in a sports car, one and a half minutes faster than what I thought of doing and it ended up in tears.”
“I’ve spoken with the guys this morning and they’ve said it’s just unbelievable, it’s like flying a spaceship around the track. It would be interesting to put a Formula 1 car on the Nordschleife and see what it does but it’s pretty more my spin than a realistic idea that somebody’s going to finance,” added the Mercedes chief.
Clay Reggazoni holds the Formula 1 lap record around the Ring, his best lap of 7:06.4 set at the wheel of a Ferrari 312T in 1975.
The track was last used for Formula 1 as the German Grand Prix venue in 1976. Niki Lauda’s fiery near-fatal accident that year, driving a Ferrari, put an end to the silliness.
The German Grand Prix then shifted to Hockenheimring, before alternating with the Nürburgring Grand Prix Strecke – the latter a castrated version of the real deal.
A staggering 48 race drivers have perished at the Nordschleife, only more drivers have died at Indianapolis which claimed 57 lives over the years.