‘Dream lives on’ of F1 return to Nordschleife

Jon Wilde
Nick Heidfeld drives a BMW-Sauber Formula 1 car on the Nordschleife

Nick Heidfeld drives a BMW-Sauber Formula 1 car on the Nordschleife

Nurburgring officials have revealed “the dream lives on” for Formula 1 to return to the Nordschleife – but that no “serious discussions” have taken place.

A first F1 race for seven years at the Nurburgring took place recently, but a subject of fascination for many of the drivers involved was the Nordschleife circuit which adjoins the modern track.

Nicknamed ‘The Green Hell’ by Jackie Stewart after it hosted F1 in the 1950s and 60s, the Nordschleife was modified in the early 1970s for safety reasons and continued to stage the German Grand Prix up to 1976 when Niki Lauda suffered a near-fatal accident.

Nowadays, the Nordschleife, which measures 12.9 miles compared to its former 14.1-mile distance, is the scene of several touring car races and also an annual 24-hour event for GT endurance cars.

Formula 1 cars have been driven around the circuit for exhibition purposes, but given the Nordschleife’s length there would be various logistical difficulties in holding a race there – not least in terms of the number of marshals, medical and emergency services required.

Nevertheless, it does not stop ambitions remaining that one day the Nordschleife could be back on the F1 calendar – something that would certainly excite plenty of current drivers, although some more than others.

“The dream definitely lives on with us,” said Nurburgring spokesman Alexander Gerhard, quoted by Motorsport-total.com.

“But it is not the case that there have been serious discussions about it that you can now speak of plans. It is indeed a dream.

“You would have to get everyone around the table for initial discussions because Formula 1, the FIA and the Nürburgring all have their own requirements.”

Nurburgring 24-hour race on the Nordschleife

Gerhard added that some preliminary talks had taken place two years ago but that they had come to nothing, with the Nurburgring having had to step away from alternating the co-hosting of the German Grand Prix with Hockenheim for economic reasons.

He added: “Back then, what we could offer was not of a financial nature, but of course we included the Nordschleife as a unique piece worldwide – which ultimately also means added value in communication for Formula 1. At that time, it was not discussed any further.”

However, what the Nurburgring would not accept is Formula 1 wanting to sanitise the Nordschleife and diluting its essence if they were to race there, with Gerhard saying:

“The characteristics of the Nordschleife are so unique, that is our greatest asset. It is a bad idea to think about changing the characteristics.”

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