Top Nurburgring lap times: We take a look at some of the fastest cars to have lapped the infamous Nurburgring Nordschleife

The Nurburgring Nordschleife: 12.9 miles and one hundred-plus corners snake through Nürburg’s Eifel forest, presenting constant changes in gradient and articulation. Trying to visualise the next corner, as your vision blurs, under full throttle – speedo still climbing – you get the feeling the barriers are converging on you.

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The Green Hell is an experience like no other, even at modest speeds. Going in search of lap records, then, is a serious and dangerous business.

Below is a rundown of the ten quickest laps of both road legal and exclusively track-bred metal. A brave few drivers have piloted cars round the circuit in sub-seven minute times, with those cars averaging over 110mph over the course of the lap.

Mclaren F1 (XP5) – 7:11.11

No fast car list would be complete without the presence of a McLaren. At the hands of Finnish Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen, the fifth of five F1 prototypes (XP5) was tested to its limits treading the notorious carousel and diving down into the fox-hole. The very same car embarked on a top speed run with Andy Wallace sitting in the centrally mounted seat, hitting a staggering 240.14mph in 1998.

The Mclaren F1 stood as an example of technology and engineering well beyond its time, and still stacks up admirably against modern day supercars on the Nordschleife timing sheets.

Mercedes AMG GT R – 7:10.92

Mercedes explored Northward of its Stuttgart base to test the AMG GT R’s mettle at the Nurburgring circuit. Hardware was seriously beefed up over the standard GT to cope with the stresses of a pedal-to-metal loop of the Nordschleife. Coilover suspension, aero-manipulating body parts and the aptly named ‘AMG Green Hell Magno’ paint all contributed to reorient the GT R for a more track-biased focus.

Carbon Ceramic brakes, a roll cage and a four-point harness also had a hand in the eventual 7:10.95. These time-shaving gubbins reduced the load on the rear wheel steering system, shedding weight and making for a tauter, better handling chassis.

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Nissan GT-R Nismo – 7:08.68

It’s hard to believe Godzilla will be ten years old this year in its R35 incarnation. Year-on-year though, engineers have continued to toil and tinker with the GT-R, incrementally turning up the wick. In its base form it may not be the yardstick it once was, but the Nismo off-shoot derivative, equipped with the Nismo N Attack Package, is a bonafide track car. What it lacks in finesse and light weight, it makes up for in huge performance and technology.

A physics-defying four-wheel-drive drivetrain, coupled to the intelligent torque vectoring system, saw the GT-R carve through the Deutchland forest like little else, setting a remarkable time of 7:08.68.

NextEV NIO EP9 – 7:05.12

 

With the electrification of the car industry now seemingly an inevitability, we shouldn’t be too surprised to see at least one pioneer send its socket-charged supercar to plant a stake at the Nurburgring. Fully juiced, NextEV sent its 1,341bhp NIO EP9 out of the pits for it to return having registered a time amazingly close to the the seven-minute milestone.

This stellar performance wasn’t the shock you might think, as much of the EP9’s engineering and design derives from the company’s ongoing participation in Formula E.

Dodge Viper ACR-X – 7:03.06

Perhaps considered an antiquated entity by European standards, especially in its first generation, the Dodge Viper is no slouch. Fast forward to the current generation and the American manufacturer has delivered a version capable of phenomenal track-based feats, producing an even more extreme adaptation of the crazy ACR.

The engine in the ARC-X measures up at 8.4-litres. All 640 horses alarmingly fire the car past 150mph, at which point it generates just shy of 500kg of downforce. Such aerodynamic enhancements were surely key to the impressive time collected by the sole American offering found in this list.

Lamborghini Aventador SV – 6:59.73

Shod in Pirelli’s most track focused P Zero rubber, the angriest bull in Lamborghini’s stable just crept into the sub-seven club. The raucous 740bhp V12, squeezed between the driver and the central exit quad exhaust, went some way to landing the SV fifth place in eCoty 2015.

On our test we couldn’t get enough of the raw supercar spirit flowing through the spaceship lookalike. ‘In a world where the outer limits of supercars are becoming more accessible, the SV remains a thrilling proposition.’ With serious performance pent up within the carbon chassis, this is a supercar true to the meaning and a Ring conqueror.

Ferrari 599XX – 6:58.16

A car destined only for the track, not at your discretion nor the law’s, but on the say-so of a higher power: Ferrari. Born out of Ferrari’s XX programme, this stripped-backed, pumped-up 599 arrives at the track courtesy of a courier, with a band of Ferrari mechanics in tow to support the day’s track action. Then they’ll take it away again, back to its secret dehumidified hangar.

In 2010 the Maranello-based circus arrived at the Ring to set a time worthy of the badge. It did just that: the 599XX crossed the line almost half a second quicker than Niki Lauda’s 1975 Ferrari 312T F1 car.

Porsche 918 Spyder – 6:57 (Weissach Package)

Porsche’s hypercar is the only member of the hypercar “holy trinity” to brave its home nation circuit. Assimilating a myriad of cutting-edge, automotive technology the 918 exploits these collaborative systems to great effect.

Stepping in as the flagship model for the Stuttgart manufacturer, replacing the the Carrera GT, the successor managed to shave over thirty seconds off the Carrera GT’s time. The 6:57 time still stands unchallenged by the LaFerrari and McLaren P1.

Radical SR8 LM – 6:48

In Formula 1, bending and stretching of rules is the road to success. Radical took a leaf out of the F1 playbook producing – a barely road legal – Nurburgring record-setter. The SR8 LM was briefly the curator of the road-legal lap record, only to be undercut by a few painstaking tenths, by the £1.5 million Zonda R.

What it may lack in raw sex appeal next to a Zonda it more than compensates for in performance. The 650kg, open-top, British racer’s 6:48 effort is incredibly impressive when you look the competition it places alongside on the Ring leaderboard.

Pagani Zonda R – 6:47.50

In 2010 Horacio Pagani sent the most hardcore iteration of Zonda to test its performance in a fearsome racing environment. Harbouring componentry that went on to underpin the Huyara, the Zonda R was well armed. Countering the weight of the considerable 7.3-litre AMG sourced engine, was a sparing use of carbonfibre, which saw the R tip the scales at 1,070kg (dry).

Keeping all 740bhp on the black-stuff was a sculpted body channeling air towards the rear wing, sucking the R to the asphalt. The incredible downforce meant the track-ready Zonda could generate 1.62g of lateral G and the ability to attack corners mercilessly. The recipe that created Zonda R was such a succes that it currently holds the non-production, and production lap records for the Nurburgring.

Nurburgring Lamborghini takes new record with 6:52 lap

The lap was set during a 15-minute window at the end of an industry day back in October 2016 – the track usually shuts for the northern winter from November to March. The Performante was still wearing its development fatigues and was driven by Italian ace Marco Mapelli (who finished second at the Bathurst 12-Hour in 2015). Mapelli also piloted the Lamborghini Aventador SV to a sub-seven lap back in 2015 so he’s familiar with taming a raging bull around the Nurburgring.

Conclusion

However important these lap times may be, they don’t provide conclusive comparative results. Often, published lap times emanate from attempts undertaken by entities external to manufacturers, as well as cross-manufacturer testing. In 2008, Porsche sent a Nissan GT-R out to the Nurburgring citing a time of 7:54, some 25-seconds slower than Nissan’s official time.

The backdrop to Nissan’s quicker time will have entailed a hoard of mechanics and engineers overseeing proceedings, ensuring the GT-R is primed to set the fastest time possible. Contrast that to Porsche’s test, where the GT-R won’t have had the same benefits, and a significantly slower time arises. From an outside perspective it becomes difficult to determine the car’s true, representative performance.

Ultimately, a car’s Nurburgring time stamp isn’t the overriding performance metric due the ambiguity surrounding the recorded times. This though, doesn’t stop manufacturers engaging in lap time battles and looking to create the fastest thing around the Nurburgring.