40 Years Of GP Loop: Nürburgring Shows Interesting Original Proposals

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The Nürburgring is iconic for the Nordschleife, but the GP Loop has been one of Germany's premier circuits since it opened in 1984. For its 40th anniversary, interesting original proposals for the track have been shown.

The Eifel mountains are synonymous with the Nürburgring to motorsport fans, and that is mostly due to the iconic Nordschleife. Winding its way around the hills and valleys of the region, it is considered to be the best circuit in the world by many.

Originally, the short start-finish loop, also called 'Betonschleife' in German (concrete loop) marked a simple start to the lap. When the 'Ring was modernized in the early 1980s, the Grand Prix Loop was built in its place, and the much more modern part of the track has hosted Formula 1, WEC and DTM races, as well as numerous other series.

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The Nürburgring's GP layout since 2003. Image: racingcircuits.info

Expanded with the Mercedes Arena in the first sector, which replaced a simple but flowing left-right chicane, in 2002, the GP loop's configuration has stayed mostly intact since it opened on May 12, 1984. It is much more modern and much safer than the Nordschleife, yet has numerous flowing corners such as the Michael-Schumacher-S. Depending on the configuration used, the track is up to 5.148 kilometers long.

Original Plan: Longer Track, Second Pit Lane​

When the new GP track opened, it was 4.5 kilometers long - but there was a significantly different plan originally. The new circuit would be built roughly in the location of the old Südschleife, which is mostly still there today and used as public roads.

An early drawing saw the new layout use part of the Südschleife, which evolved into a 6.6-kilometer circuit by 1979. The Nürburgring shared these plans on their Twitter, showing what the track might have looked like had everything gone ahead as intended.

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An early proposal for the Nürburgring GP circuit. Image: Nürburgring

About two thirds of the circuit would have been the same as it was later built: The first few corners until what is now Valvoline-Kurve and everything from the Schumacher-S onwards look very familiar, but in between, a vastly different layout was drawn up.

Instead of the 90-degree left hander at Valvoline, the turn would have been a long, sweeping left, followed by an even bigger, sweeping right. This led to an alternate start-finish straight, including a second pit lane allowing for both halves of the GP loop to be operated independently. In other words: Races could have been hosted on both parts at the same time without interfering with each other.

More sweepers, this time tighter, wound wind their way down to where the Dunlop-Kehre is located nowadays, where a tight right-hander would have led drivers back towards today's Schumacher-S. Right before the uphill left-right, a shortcut would have been built to create the short layout of this half of the track.

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The 6.6-kilometer proposal for the Nürburgring's GP circuit (top) and the version eventually built and opened in 1984. Image: Nürburgring

Shorter Layout Due To Costs​

The longer version of the track was not built due to financial reasons, however. As it was much more cost-efficient to build the shortened version including the Dunlop-Kehre, this layout eventually got the nod. The bulldozers rolled in in 1983, leading to the unique Nordschleife-only layout used for the 1983 1000-km-Rennen where Stefan Bellof set his legendary 6.11-minute lap in qualifying.

Thinking about what could have been is certainly an interesting exercise, however. Looking at satellite images of the Nürburgring, the space that the longer proposal should have occupied is still mostly empty, so in theory, an expansion could still happen (although practically, there is no need for it).

But the beauty of sim racing is that it is not limited by what is there in real life. With the abundance of Assetto Corsa mods, for instance, a "What If" version of the Nürburgring circa 1984 would certainly be possible - and highly interesting to see what the original proposal could have looked like from behind the virtual wheel.


What are your impressions of the proposed Nürburgring GP layouts? Which one would you like to drive the most? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!
About author
Yannik Haustein
Lifelong motorsport enthusiast and sim racing aficionado, walking racing history encyclopedia.

Sim racing editor, streamer and one half of the SimRacing Buddies podcast (warning, German!).

Heel & Toe Gang 4 life :D

Comments

I really like the alternatives especially the first one...

Never been a real big fan of the GP loop... It's in the shadow of the greatest circuit on the planet but it's more then that... It has a bit of a street circuit feel to it's flow for me, especially with the Mercedes loop...
 
"Nürburgring" and "original" in the same sentence implies the Nordschleife. Nothing less. The current Nurburgring bears as much relation to the real (original) track as the modern Hockenheim bears to the real (original) track. To a true racing fan, using the same name for a completely different track is sacrilege. (I even take exception to Silverstone, Monza, and Zanvoort; each a pale shadow of its original incarnation.)

Do what they will with the track, it will still be just another modern, flat, featureless F1 track; as inspiring as a bowl of vanilla pudding. But as long as the FIA can dictate circuit design we can expect no better.

Sadly the sheer logistics of marshaling Nordschliefe means we shall never see F1 strut their stuff (such as it is) on that circuit again. Nor have they the "cojones" to run the original Spa, a glorious track.

Just my one cent worth.
 
I quite like the 6.6Km layout, it would have been a great track. Also the proposed chicane in the first corner looks a lot better than it became in the end (counting the Mercedes Arena as well). Given the location, it would have been a downhill, increasing ratio corner, favouring throttle. It would have been the German Corkscrew XD
 
I quite like the 6.6Km layout, it would have been a great track. Also the proposed chicane in the first corner looks a lot better than it became in the end (counting the Mercedes Arena as well). Given the location, it would have been a downhill, increasing ratio corner, favouring throttle. It would have been the German Corkscrew XD
The T1-T2 chicane in the proposal is what did get built and was used until 2002 when the Mercedes Arena replaced it.
It was really quite a nothing corner which interrupted the racing and forced the cars into single file.
The Mercedes Arena is an ugly bit of track, but you can't deny that it does allow for multiple lines and for overtaken cars to counterattack. The best move would have been to build only the shortcut layout of the Mercedes Arena, as used in the N24.

I also like the 6.6km proposal in general, it looks like it would be great for modern top-tier sports car series like WEC and ELMS as well as working well in combination with the Nordschleife for GT/touring car endurance races. Having a second pit lane could allow some classes to be shifted there during major endurance races like the N24 to reduce pit/paddock congestion.

I would make a few changes to it, mainly to what would be sector 2 between the second pit lane and the Schumacher-S.
T5 (after the secondary pits) should have a tighter entry to allow for overtaking after the fast run through the T3-T4 sweepers.
T8-T9 (double right handers) should be replaced by a copy of the current Dunlop-Kehre where the proposed T9 is located, with the sequence between T5 and there adjusted to create the right approach for it.
 
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