One of the first modern ‘autodrome’ circuits, the Nürburgring’s reputation has undergone something of a renaissance in recent years. While difficult, overtaking is possible into the first corner and the chicane at turns 13 and 14, and the circuit’s challenges range from first gear hairpins to sixth- and seventh-gear sweepers. No matter what the season, rain and cool conditions are an ever-present threat in the Eifel mountains.
The Nürburgring demands some of the highest downforce levels of the season, not only for the numerous slow and medium-speed corners, but also to maintain good stability under heavy braking for the first corner and the slow chicanes.
Corners such as turns 5/6, 8/9 and 10/11 in particular demand a neutral handling balance to avoid compromising the optimum line through the second corner in the sequence, and the engineers will often work through the weekend to dial out understeer in the medium-speed corners.
A quick, responsive change of direction is required in both the slow-speed section at the start of the lap, and through the quicker corners. Mechanical grip is particularly important through turns 1 to 4, but cannot be achieved at the expense of aerodynamic performance around the rest of the lap.
Tyre performance will, as always, be a critical performance parameter for all teams. The soft and medium tyres from the 2007 Bridgestone Potenza range will be used and ambient conditions will dictate how they are used in race conditions. Should the abnormally cool summer conditions continue at the Nürburgring, teams are once again likely to find themselves trying to minimise the impact of tyre graining on the softer tyre.
The Nürburgring is not a circuit that presents the engines with any extreme challenges, and its overall impact is further reduced by the fact that the circuit is situated at altitude, some 500m above sea level. This has the effect of reducing engine power by approximately 5%, while also reducing loads on certain engine components such as the pistons.
The engine is at full throttle for just over 56% of the lap – a value well below the season average of approximately 61%. The longest single period at full throttle barely exceeds ten seconds, so the main challenge for the engine team is ensuring strong performance from low revs so the engine launches well out of the slow corners, and particularly turn 7 which leads onto the uphill drag to turn 10.
The circuit includes a number of elevation changes, but none are sudden enough to cause the engine systems any concern. The only note of caution come to finding the best line through some of the bumpier corners, and particularly the chicane, to avoid spending too much time on the rev limiter, which is potentially damaging for the engine.Source Renault