<UPDATED FOR MY BAD MATHS>
After fog enveloped the Nordschleife and Grand Prix circuit, just 6-hours into the N24, race control pulled out the red-flags last night at 21:30. Within an hour, the news was out: there would be no restart scheduled before 06:00 today. No hourly checks; no red-eyes staring at the news-ticker all night.
At a stroke, the entire night shift was removed from the Nürburgring’s most famous race. If I was driving, I would be massively disappointed. And with no parc ferme called, the cars are free to be repaired and serviced. So while the drivers might be able to relax in their hotels, the mechanics get no such rest.
Now, at 11:10, we’re still waiting for the formation lap to begin. It’s being pushed back 20-minutes at a time, as the fog continues to swirl. That 07:00 restart is but a distant memory. Even if everything magically improves, I don’t imagine this race beginning before 12:30. That makes the N24 an N11 or N10 this year (at best).
The weather story just adds to this year’s disappointment. Barely 120 cars actually made the start yesterday (a busy year would be 200+), and in the chaos that ensued there were often less than 100 cars actually driving at once, and often up to 20 CODE-60 positions scattered over the Nordschleife. Average laptimes were well over 10-minutes for most teams. Or less than 6 laps per hour, including pitstops to change tyres and refuel. That’s just 5 laps per hour!
Currently the top 21 teams are all on lap 34. 34 laps in 6 hours means an average of 5.6 laps per hour for full-fat GT3 cars. At the other end of the grid, the slowest of the cars that didn’t crash (Dacia!) was averaging just 4 laps per hour of driving!
Normal N24 rules state that every driver in a team needs to complete 15 laps minimum. For a typical 4 driver team, that means 60 laps total, or, more laps than the average team can complete in 10 hours. Currently, even the GT3 teams will be unlikely to ‘finish’ the race, as we’ll be running well below 50% race distance.
No matter what happens next, it will be difficult day for team-owners, drivers, mechanics and race control. You can follow the English-speaking livestream below, and follow the livetiming (with analysis) here.