The 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship now makes its way to Germany for round 10 of 19, the German Grand Prix, held this year at the twisty, undulating 3.2 mile Nürburgring on the edge of the Eifel mountains and forest range to the north of the country.
The German Grand Prix is the home race for two drivers from Renault-powered teams; Lotus Renault GP’s Nick Heidfeld and Red Bull Racing-Renault’s Sebastian Vettel. Renault engines have won at the Nürburgring five times, the first victory coming in 1995 with Michael Schumacher and the fifth at the 2009 German Grand Prix with Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
A lap of Germany from an engine point of view:
There’s a long run from the start finish line to the first corner, the Castrol-S, a second gear hairpin where revs will drop very low: just 9,500rpm. Then it’s straight into the Mercedes-Arena; a second to third gear complex taken with an average speed of around 62 mph. Through this section the engine needs to have good braking control on the entry to corners and good traction on the exit, however also needs to be responsive enough to accelerate out of the arena down the short straight leading down to turn 5 where cars will hit 167 mph before the braking zone.
Turn 5 is a fourth gear left hander that quickly tightens into turn 6, a right hander taken in third gear, but then it’s back on the power for another short burst before the next heavy braking zone for the Dunlop-Kehre hairpin. Like turn 1, this hairpin is taken in 2nd and engine revs drop quite low – just 10,500rpm. The driver then needs a responsive engine to accelerate for the ‘straight’ leading through turns 8 and 9. Even though turns 8 and 9 are taken in sixth at 155 mph – not normally top speed – the drivers will be flat and will pull around 3.5g through this section. They will then drop from 181 mph to 90 mph and third gear for turn 10.
Sector three is the shortest section in time, taking around 24 seconds to complete. It’s also the highest average speed on the track and the DRS activation zone, which comes 62m after turn 11. Drivers will be able to make use of the DRS on the 755m straight from turn 11 to 13 before braking for turn 13, or the Veedol chicane, a second gear chicane that sees drivers brake from 189 mph to just 56 mph. The track then opens back out for a final sprint to the last corner, a third gear right hander taken at 75 mph, before rejoining the pit straight for another lap.
View from Rémi Taffin, head of Renault Sport F1 track operations:
The Nürburgring is a medium speed track with an average of 118 mph and a maximum speed of 189 mph in qualifying. The average is balanced out by a mix of low speed corners, such as turns 1 and 7 where the cars will run between 47 and 59 mph and the four long straights. As a result the engine has to be driveable through the lower revs but also offer responsiveness and top end power. In particular 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.
Track conditions 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 fresh rubber will be laid down during the weekend. 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.
Did you know…
The back to back Grands Prix in Germany and Hungary will see the Renault Sport F1 trucks depart from the Nürburgring on Sunday night to arrive at the Hungaroring in Budapest by Tuesday. To supply three teams RSF1 takes four trucks to each race carrying five tonnes of equipment. One truck is stationed next to the Red Bull Racing engineering area, a second next to Lotus Renault GP and a third – used principally as a communications ‘common space’ – next to Team Lotus. The other truck is parked in the truck parking area to the exterior of the circuit. Approximately 30 people attend each race, six engineers and technicians per team, plus five logistics and a small marketing and management team.