I woke up this morning to much confusion on the internet.
No surprise there. The world has been struggling to make sense of the Nürburgring lap record system ever since the early ’90s, when it began its slow creep to global relevance via RUF, Nissan, Jaguar and Chevrolet.
About a year ago, I wrote this complete article detailing why and how the Nürburgring lap record “system” had changed. The tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) version is that there was no system for the last 30 years. Just a random hotch-potch of manufacturers replicating a magazine test with no oversight or overview or control.
So why, you might be asking, is a bright orange AMG now the official fastest production car around the Nürburgring when we can still remember these headlines:
Firstly, let’s deal with the Manthey car. The 6m40s is not the full length of the Nordschleife, it’s a Sport Auto style, missing-the-length-of-T13-straight laptime. Measured from the same start-finish line, the same line that Stefan Bellof set his laptime on, the Manthey car did 6m44.749s:
The Porsche GT2 RS MR is a modified production car, built by Manthey Racing. Road-legal, sure. Available from a Porsche dealer in downtown New York or the streets of Tokyo? Not exactly. Sure, for anybody serious about their cars, and with the money to buy one, it wouldn’t be a massive problem to get the Manthey packages ordered and installed to your GT2 RS, but it’s not the standard car that rolled off the production line.
As for the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, if we just ignore the furoré of their previously boosted speedo readings, they’re still only claiming a 6m44.997 on the “short” Sport Auto layout. That’s more like a 6m49-ish on the full lap length. And, crucially, there was no notary to check the tyres and spec of the car that hit the track.
You can watch the Lamborghini laptime here, and see for yourself. The car is stripped to the bone.
So let’s get back to the Mercedes-AMG Black Series…
As you can see, Maro Engel, under the watchful eye of the timing crew and German notary, did indeed clock a full lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in only 6m48s. And if you’ve read this far, you now know why that’s the fastest production car to ever lap the Nürburgring Nordschleife, but why it’s still not the fastest street-legal car to set a Nürburgring laptime.
If you read the full blurb below, you’ll see they maxed out the ARB and camber settings of this already-track-ready car, and opted for the one-lap-wonder Michelin Pilot Cup2Rs. I’ve used the Cup2R, having played with an extra set left over from the Project8 lap record day. They’re damn sticky, but go off very quickly indeed.
Full Press release from Mercedes-AMG follows below.
Affalterbach/Adenau. How close the new Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series (fuel consumption combined: 12.8 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 292 g/km) actually is to motorsport has now been impressively demonstrated by GT3 racer Maro Engel on the Nordschleife of the Nürburgring. With an officially measured and notarized certified time of 6:43,616 min for the 20.6 kilometre-long track (measured without the straight at track section T13) and 6:48,047 min for the 20.832 kilometre-long total track (measured with the straight at track section T13), the new V8 meteor is placed in the top group of the street-legal “sports cars” category and number one among the fully standard, unmodified models.
Maro Engel made full use of all the possibilities offered by the new Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series as standard: such as the most powerful AMG V8 series engine ever with 537 kW (730 hp), the sophisticated aerodynamics and extensive suspension adjustment options. For example, the front splitter made of visible carbon fibre was extended to the “Race” position, and the lower and upper wing blades of the rear spoiler were each adjusted in the middle position. The adjustable AMG coilover suspension with adaptive adjustment damping was lowered by five millimetres at the front and three millimetres at the rear to further enhance the venturi effect of the front diffuser. The camber was adjusted to the maximum possible values of negative 3.8 degrees at the front axle and negative 3.0 degrees at the rear. In the case of the adjustable anti-roll bars, racing professional Engel opted for the hardest of the three possible settings, and the 35-year-old adjusted the nine-stage AMG traction control between positions six and seven -depending on the section of the track. AMG GT Black Series customers can also take advantage of all these settings and variations.
This also applies to the MICHELIN Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tyres with “soft compound,” which are completely standard equipment and were developed in collaboration with development partner Michelin especially for the top sports car in the AMG GT series. The highest possible level of safety was ensured not only by the standard AMG ceramic high-performance composite brake system, but also by the Track Package with rollover protection system and four-point safety belts offered as standard equipment.
“That was a really impressive ride,” said Maro Engel after completing the record lap. “With speeds of up to almost 270 km/h in the Kesselchen section of the track or well over 300 km/h on the long Döttinger Höhe straight, the AMG GT Black Series is significantly faster than my GT3 race car. To finally drive around the Nordschleife in 6:48.047 minutes with a production road car in these track conditions is really awesome. Like my GT3 race car, the AMG GT Black Series offers a lot of adjustment possibilities, all of which enabled me to create a setup that was tailor-made for me.”
Also in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series takes a great deal from the race car. A direct derivation from motorsport, for example, is the carbon-fibre hood with two large exhaust outlets. These specifically guide the warm air that flows from the slanted radiator setup out of the engine compartment. This increases overall downforce, as does the sophisticated rear wing concept and the largely enclosed underbody.
“It’s really impressive how much downforce the Black Series generates and how confident and reliable it can be driven, even at the absolute limit. My hat is off to the developers from Affalterbach for what they have put on wheels here. And I’m very pleased that I was able to demonstrate these fascinating engineering skills with this great lap time,” said Engel.
Just as they were for AMG development engineer Demian Schaffert, who set a new lap record with the Mercedes-AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC+ (fuel consumption combined: 12.5 l/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 286 g/km)1 on the same day, the conditions were not quite ideal for Maro Engel either. Because when the GT3 professional drove through the light gate of the timing system on November 4, 2020 at 5:02 p.m., not only were 20.832 kilometres of Green Hell behind him in the dim light – the GT3 professional also set the fastest time at an outside temperature of seven degrees Celsius and ten degrees Celsius on the asphalt. In addition, some passages of the extremely demanding track were not yet totally dry.
The fast lap times were precisely measured by neutral experts from “wige SOLUTIONS”. An independent notary also certified the condition of the vehicle as well as the measurements. The spectacular drive can be watched on a video here: