In 2017, Audi driver Loïc Duval at the end of the start-finish straight achieved a top speed of 261 km/h in Sunday’s qualifying. Subsequently, while braking into the track’s slowest turn where speed drops to 50 km/h, a load of more than 2.4 g is reached – putting the brakes whose calipers will additionally be water-cooled at the Norisring through their paces. “The stress will be even greater this year because the cars, due to reduced downforce, will be faster on the straights while the braking distance increases,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass.
The unique circuit between the “Dutzendteich” lake and the Max Morlock stadium is only 2.3 kilometers long and has merely four turns. Even so, it is regarded as one of the most demanding ones of the whole season. “The Norisring looks simple but is an absolute challenge,” says Audi driver Nico Müller. The Swiss knows what he is talking about. In 2016, he celebrated his first DTM victory in Sunday’s race in Nuremberg. 24 hours earlier he had made only a very small mistake while braking into the hairpin turn at the end of the start-finish straight and touched the rear of another car – afterwards, the race was over for both of them.
Last year, Audi driver Mike Rockenfeller had a particularly painful experience of how risky the Norisring is. While braking into the hairpin turn, Gary Paffett lost control of his Mercedes-Benz and subsequently crashed into the German’s Audi RS 5 DTM at high speed. Thanks to the extremely high safety standard of the DTM cars Rockenfeller only sustained a foot injury and was able to race again at the following event.
To lose as little time as possible on the long straights downforce is minimized at the Norisring, which affects the cars’ balance during braking events. Consequently, in addition to engine power, a perfect setup is crucial to achieving the best lap time. The drivers’ job is additionally made more difficult by the fact that bumps in the surface change every year. “When it comes to thrilling racing and gripping overtaking maneuvers, the Norisring is the best DTM race track of all,” says Jamie Green who has previously won four DTM races in Nuremberg.
Close and gripping racing is always part of the program at the Norisring. Last year, the entire field was within just seven tenths of a second in qualifying. Sunday saw a spectacular photo finish for third place in which an Audi, a BMW and a Mercedes-Benz crossed the finish line side by side – separated by a mere 0.027 seconds.