(Motorsport-Total.com) – In 1976 the last Grand Prix took place on the legendary Nordschleife, and even if a return to Formula 1 seems unrealistic today, the dream lives on. And not only hundreds of thousands of motorsport fans in the Eifel, in Germany and around the world – but also Nürburgring Managing Directors Mirco Markfort and Max Verstappen.
© Robert Kah / Nürburgring
The Red Bull driver had enough time on Friday to give interviews while he waited in vain for training to start. In one of them he was asked if he would like to take a lap with a Formula 1 racing car on the Nordschleife. His bold answer: “Better to start a race!”
“Why not?” Asks Verstappen. The interviewer is amazed. The British Sky reporter thinks that this is far too dangerous. But the 23-year-old does not accept that: “Come on! Isn’t Monaco dangerous? There we drive over 300.”
In fact, the idea of a Grand Prix comeback on the Nordschleife has long haunted the minds of German motorsport makers. Allegedly, Hermann Tilke and Norbert Haug thought years ago how the “Green Hell” could be made fit for Formula 1 again. Nothing came of it in concrete terms.
Mind game is taken up again and again
In the summer of 2017, things took off again. In an online survey carried out by ‘Motorsport-Total.com’, 33.07 percent of the participants stated that Formula 1 should return to the Nordschleife, “it cost what it wants”. Another 41.57 percent found the idea charming but unrealistic.
Armed with the results of the survey, we met Formula 1 sporting director Ross Brawn for an interview, who immediately recognized the charm and described the idea as “fantastic”: “Perhaps it would be worth thinking about it The Nordschleife is one of the most cult tracks in the world. “
And contrary to expectations, the Nürburgring did not give a dedicated refusal either. Markfort, who was already managing director of the track at the time, said: “A possible return of Formula 1 to the legendary Nordschleife is certainly an interesting mental game.” And only in July 2020 he emphasized again: “This vision is still haunted in the back of our heads.”
Markfort: Formula 1 currently has other problems …
In the discussions about the Eifel Grand Prix 2020, however, the Nordschleife never played a role because Markfort believes that Formula 1 “has other problems than dealing with daydreams. A vision like this requires stable conditions . […] If you do something like that at some point, you need a lot more lead time. “
But in spite of all the doom and gloom who regard a Nordschleife Grand Prix as crazy, Markfort insists in a recent interview with ‘auto motor und sport’: “There is no such thing as impossible.” Of course, the cars need “a different set-up. But you drive in Monaco and Baku too. Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” he believes.
“In the last two years two high-performance vehicles have already shown that it works. On the one hand it was the Porsche LMP1 with Timo Bernhard in 5:19 minutes and last year also the VW ID.R. Those are two vehicles which were actually built for pure Grand Prix tracks with smooth asphalt. “
“I think that the route would be fine”
“It was shown that it works with the right set-up and a driver who gets involved on the track. The manufacturers would not have done that if the Nordschleife had a major safety risk at any point. So I think so, that the route would be fine, “said Markfort.
What is certain is that an upgrade of the Nordschleife to Formula 1 standard in order to meet the necessary safety precautions would cost a lot of money on the one hand, and on the other hand would require the FIA and Formula 1 to accommodate them. For many it is simply inconceivable that all obstacles could be removed.
Not for Markfort: “As far as the annual modernization measures are concerned, the same applies to the Nordschleife as to the Grand Prix track. We have put in a lot of effort here in recent years, laying a lot of new asphalt and erecting additional safety fences. Man so can’t compare the Nordschleife with the times of Niki Lauda, ”he says.