In his lifetime, the Swiss instructor Martin Stucky has managed an incredible 25,000 laps of the 20.8km course with its 73 corners, written a book on the perfect lines to take and taught thousands of novices the basics of this legendary rollercoaster of a course – which has a 300m difference in altitude between its highest and lowest points.
“Do you really want this?” he asks his pupils on the first day. “The Nordschleife is a drug. Anyone who goes out there with us now will never get it out of their system.”
Of course they all want it, otherwise they wouldn’t have paid €2,690 for a two-day intensive training course, which doesn’t include the car. “It’s cheaper than bodywork damage, anyway,” says one of the participants, quite rightly, before getting into his 740hp Ferrari F12 as he willingly becomes a learner driver again.
The Scuderia S7 experts divide Hell into six sections to make it more manageable. Each section is about 3km long and small groups go through them over and over again behind the instructor, following radio instructions, until they’ve got the line right.
It’s hard, precise brainwork. If you don’t think far enough ahead or you’re a little bit careless, you’re going to have problems a couple of corners in front of you. But if you do it right and follow the pros’ instructions, then even those nasty sections – for example the turn-in point in the Fuchsröhre compression, which makes your eyes pop out and your brain want to rebel at the very thought of keeping your foot to the floor – will pass off smoothly and safely.
As instructor Friedhelm Mihm explains, “The less you steer, the more smoothly you’ll go about your business, which means that you’ll be more relaxed, secure and quicker round the track. You have to think ahead and connect points with the greatest curve possible. That obviously applies here at the Nordschleife, but it also applies when you’re driving in regular traffic.”
His theory is proved right on the second day, when it’s time for a couple of drivers in very powerful, very quick cars to string together the individual sections and apply what they’ve learnt in free practice.
Expect the unexpected. The Nordschleife is notorious for accommodating all four seasons over its 20km. You could get blazing sunshine at Döttinger Höhe, fog at Breidscheid, ideal conditions at Bergwerk and rain at the Fuchsröhre.
DRIVE: Prepare yourself while still at home