Getting it wrong: Brünchenn II


Somebody sent me this video today, and I thought I'd take the time to explain (in my opinion) why so many people get this particular corner of the Nürburgring wrong...

The first video I want to show you is, I believe, the 'typical' Brunchenn crash. Watch the Porsche GT3 crash above. Lift-off oversteer between the apex and the exit. So why does this happen? Here are the factors at play, from minor to major:

  • The crowd; there are plenty more difficult corners on the 'Ring. But none have a crowd like Brunchenn. Drivers feel the need to hit the gas along the short straight...
  • ...this gives them way too much speed as they approach the bend.
  • The correct response would be to brake in a straight line before the turn-in point...
  • ...instead instinct takes over. Human instinct is perfect for throwing spears at mammoths, or dodging predators. We think in straight lines. This is NOT good for driving. Drivers turn in to the corner as soon as they see it while lifting off the gas....
  • Early turn-in = early exit. Drivers see that barrier rushing up on the left side and just steer away from it.

The correct response here would have been to allow the Porsche to run wide on to the rumble strip. That's what it's there for! Instead instinct takes over and he steers away... bad idea. The rest of the 'ride' is just bad reactions, a textbook Porsche crash. The truth is he could have gone around this corner plenty faster, but his fear of the car (or fear of the barrier) made him lift off the gas and steer too much.

So what's the other way to crash here?

There are myriad ways to throw your pride and joy into a barrier at Brünchenn II, but I'll show you the other typical crash. This is a common way to smack your front-wheel drive car, as opposed to the more common rear-wheel-drive 'tank-slapper' above (which can often be repeated with a FWD car too). All you need is too much confidence and not too much ability...

Horrifying, right? This is simple, this is just too much speed combined with that instinctive (early) turn-in. The resulting understeer is dismayingly predictable.

What do you think? Why else do so many people repeat both these crashes every summer's weekend?


#1 astrophysathingy 2011-12-09 23:50
Ugh!!! :sad:
Did national service as an ambulance driver. An ADAC chopper arriving at an accident never means a good thing.
+2 #2 astrophysathingy 2011-12-10 00:05
I think the classic errors like early turn - in, trying to save a corner with more steering, lifting or braking mid-corner, or dropping a wheel off the track and jerking the car back on are just the intuitive reaction, as you said above.
Every beginner makes each of these mistakes at least once. IMO, the difference between a recent beginner and a somewhat advanced driver is often not so much the speed they are going at, but the knowledge of what they are doing, what not to do and how to iron out mistakes. People often develop a false sense of ability and start going faster without having learned yet what the no-no's are.
If the newbie is lucky enough to learn at a track day, with an instructor in the seat and one in the classroom to say "DON'T EVER", then the learning process may happen without a bad wreck. I guess most beginner TF drivers don't have any proper training.
+1 #3 Cobra Vic 2011-12-10 00:17
classic to much car and not enough driver
+3 #4 chilled 2011-12-11 00:20
First one is astonishing because he's saved it, then crashes anyway.

I love the second one, because the driver is just an idiot. Far too much speed. You can imagine the onboard computer controlling the traction and stability control just thinking "I can't break the laws of physics"
#5 930Tech 2011-12-15 21:30
The second accident was caused by the clarkson effect, it was only his (IIRC) 2nd lap.

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