The Nürburgring is a medium speed track with an average speed of around 190kph. Track conditions can change a lot over the weekend at the Nürburgring.
Nürburgring Circuit: three corners in detail
After the long run from the start finish line to the first corner, the Castrol-S, drivers brake hard and shift into second gear for the hairpin. The hairpin sees the revs drop very low here: just 9,500rpm, the lowest revs seen on this circuit, before going straight into the Mercedes-Arena; a second to third gear complex taken with an average speed of around 100kph. Through this section the engine needs to have good braking control on the entry to corners and good traction on the exit.
Turns 8 & 9
After the hairpin of turn 7, taken in second gear at just 10,500rpm, the driver accelerates hard to turn 8. With only a short straight before the corner he does not have time to reach maximum speed, but will be ‘flat out’, with the accelerator pedal at full travel, by the time he takes the corner in sixth at 250kph. The loads travelling through the car will still be huge even with the relatively low speed; the driver will pull around 3.5g through this section. As a result the internals and fluids within the engine will also need to withstand this increased g-force.
Sector three is the shortest section in time on the track, taking just 24secs to complete. In fact only the chicane and the fast right hander back onto the pit straight break up the constant period of acceleration. The chicane is the slowest corner in sector three, and one of the hardest stops anywhere on the track. Drivers approach at over 300kph with DRS open, braking to second gear and just 90kph for turn in. The driver will just blip the throttle between the kerbs and then accelerate back through the gears to the final corner. In the data this big stop is seen very clearly, with an abrupt descent from close to 18,000rpm to a little over 10,000rpm.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations:
The Nürburgring is a medium speed track with an average speed of around 190kph. The four long straights require good top end power and we will work carefully on the selection of the top gear ratios since seventh gear will be engaged four times a lap, a higher than average usage. This high speed is however balanced out by a mix of low speed corners, such as turns 1 and the chicane where the cars will run between 75 and 95kph. As a result the engine has to be driveable through the lower revs but also offer responsiveness and strong power. One other factor we particularly need to consider is the high altitude of the track. The circuit is set in the Eifel mountains, and has an average of around 700m, only marginally less than Interlagos. The quantity of oxygen in the air is therefore less and atmospheric pressure is also lower so the engines will be slightly less powerful than at sea level. There is one advantage however in that the demands on the engine are less severe, so we will tend to use an engine on the third race of its life.
Track conditions can change a lot over the weekend at the Nürburgring. Even though the circuit is used frequently by other motorsport formulae over the year, the fact Formula 1 only visits once every two years means that grip is initially very low. As a result we will run less aggressive engine maps at the start of the event to allow the driver to be smoother on the throttle and fine tune towards a more aggressive mapping as the grip improves.
Renault Sport F1