In a final send-off to his F1 career, Michael Schumacher will take the 2011 Mercedes W03 to the Nurburgring - but how fast will he be allowed to go?
The Nurburgring Nordschleife hasn't been part of the F1 calendar since Niki Lauda nearly died there in a fiery crash in 1976 (as documented by the upcoming movie "Rush"). The closest F1 cars have gotten to the Nordschleife since then has been at the adjacent GP-Strecke, which last hosted the German Grand Prix in 2011, and a 2007 demonstration lap undertaken by Nick Heidfeld in a BMW Sauber. But next month, Michael Schumacher will take the 2011 Mercedes F1 W03 around the vaunted Green Hell.
The event will be something of a retirement send-off for the seven-time world champion as he quits F1 racing for the second time. "I have a lot of fond memories of the Nürburgring and am really looking forward to giving fans and friends from my home town of Kerpen, which is quite close to the Nürburgring, something to remember as they see me drive by," said Schumacher. "Posting a lap in a modern Silver Arrow on the most beautiful and most testing circuit in the world, what a brilliant mix – it's every motor racing driver's dream!" Whether Schumi will be permitted to post an all-out flying lap, however, remains to be seen.
Heidfeld didn't in 2007, limited to 8:34 and leaving the fastest Nordschleife lap ever posted by an F1 car to the Ferrari 312T which Lauda drove to a 6:58.6 qualifying time in 1975, followed the next day by Clay Regazzoni who posted the fastest F1 race lap in the same car at 7:06.4. Stefan Bellof posted a faster time than either in 1983 behind the wheel of a Porsche 956, lapping 6:11.13 in qualifying and 6:25.91 in the race. (Pictured is Schumacher driving the same Mercedes W03 in the 2011 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring and class Benz racers in a publicity event at the Nordschleife the same year.)