Nurburgring Debuts New Layout For 2016 Racing Season
More track and safety upgrades are expected to take place over the next three yearsby Kirby, on
Changes to a race track’s layout are a common occurrence and it can happen for a variety of reasons. This happens to tracks of all shapes and sizes and the Nurburgring, arguably most famous race track in the world, is not exempt from it. It’s worth noting that the changes made to the ‘Ring were prompted by a horrific accident on the Nordschleife portion of the track during a VLN Endurance Championship race back in March 2015.
Officials of the race circuit released the full details of seven planned modifications for the track back in November 2015. Of those seven, only one was geared towards improving the track conditions, although the decision to drop the speed limit in certain sections of the track can also be tied into this. That change mainly involved smoothing out bumps along the Quiddelbacher Höhe and Flugplatz sections of the track. The other six improvements were made in the interest of beefing up fan safety. Most of these involve new safety fences, extended roads, and the creation of a restriction zone that will be closed to spectators.
Most of the upgrades have been completed, and ‘Ring aficionado and amateur racer “xthilox” took to the circuit to test out the improvements made on the track. If you’re familiar with the old layout of the Nurburgring, you’ll notice how the Leon Cupra DSG that was being used in the video managed to go through the Quiddelbacher and Flugplatz sections at greater speeds than before. The smoothing out of these sections also means the possibility that we won’t be seeing cars getting some air anymore. It might take away from the spectacle and mystique of the track, but from a safety standpoint, it was deemed important enough to warrant the modifications.
For now, these are the changes that have been made to the Nurburgring in time for the 2016 racing season. More upgrades are expected to be done as part of a three-stage plan that lasts through 2019. The thing is, neither the track’s owners, nor the FIA, have publicly announced what those changes are going to be.
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Why it matters
The changes made to the Nurburgring for the 2016 racing season aren’t all that surprising, especially the additional safety measures being done to ensure an increased level of security for fans and spectators alike. A lot of race tracks from all over the world routinely make similar upgrades every year. The most significant of these upgrades is the smoothing out of the bumps in the Quiddelbacher and Flugplatz sections of the track, something that I think should have happened a long time ago.
I get that some people view those bumps as part of the Nurburgring’s identity. A friend even told me that they bring some character to the track in the same vein as the spray-painted graffiti on other parts of the track. That may be true, but at least the graffiti is more aesthetic than anything else. These bumps have the potential to cause accidents, which has been the case a number of times in the past. Anytime driver safety is involved, I’m always erring on the side of caution and, if it means eliminating those bump jumps entirely, I’m all for it.
Now, the bigger question here is what other upgrades are in store for the Nurburgring in the next three years. We already know that there will be changes. What we don’t know are the specifics behind those changes. Hopefully, the track’s management team sheds some light on this matter sooner than later. Otherwise, we’re all going to be left wondering what to make of the revamped circuit today, and what it could look like when all the upgrades are completed.
It’s an uneasy place to be in, especially if we’re talking about a track as famous and as revered as the Nurburgring.