First F1 racer for 31 years takes to the Nordschleife
30 April 2007

The snarling sound of an F1 car returned to the Nurburgring for the first time in 31 years on Saturday 28 April when this season’s BMW F1.06 put in a handful of hot demo laps.Driver Nick Heidfeld guided the BMW around a combined loop of the F1 circuit and the fabled Nordschleife, recording an 8min 34sec time – comparable with the time of a well-pedalled supercar on the Nordschleife alone – on his second of three laps.Click here to watch the video, with Chris Harris's commentary.“It was an incredible sight and sound,” according to a BMW staffer who saw the demo run, “you could hear the engine for about a minute before it came into view around the longest part of the circuit.”Heidfeld was under strict orders from BMW F1 boss Mario Thyssen to bring the multi-million pound car back in one piece, and the suspension and tyres were modified to cope with the bumpy old track, all of which limited the chance of setting a record time around the circuit.Harder compound demo tyres and a raised-height chassis with an extra 40mm at the front and 80mm at the rear were fitted to cope with the bumpy, abrasive surface. The gearing wasn’t perfect either, being too short for some of the Nurburgring’s high-speed sections .Heifeld, however, was still impressed by the track and the experience: “The drive was simple incredible. This racing track is the best in the world and it was very special as I left the grand prix circuit in the direction of the Nordschleife.”The F1.06’s speed peaked at a shade over 170mph on the Dottinger Hohe, the Norschleife’s longest straight, where Heidfeld said he was “really shaken up” by the combination of high speed and bumps in the track.He had a similar experience on the Bergwerk section, a tight right-hander, also reporting being “shaken up”.The idea for the run came out of BMW’s long association with the track, where all current models are still put through their paces during test and development.Last week at the ‘Ring was the ideal opportunity with an endurance race featuring 200-plus entrants, about half being BMWs.Around 45,000 people saw the first F1 car at the circuit for three decades, many said to have been attracted by the rare sight.

Click here to watch the video

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