1976 German Grand Prix
- Sunday, August 1, 1976
- Grosser Preis von Deutschland
- F1 World Championship
Nurburgring, Germany, August 1st
You either love the Nurburgring or you hate it, whether you are a driver or a spectator makes little difference. The Eifel mountains are there for you to enjoy if you want to. You can wonder at the majestic nature of the scenery or the unbelievable task of building the 14.18-mile circuit amid such splendour; you can walk along sections of the track that offer a view in either direction that is more than a complete lap of most circuits. You can hear the cars’ exhausts echoing through the fir forests long before you see them and the sound still travels back long after they arc gone. The Nurbur gring is something very special and always has been. You do not go there to spectate in the same frame of mind as you go to a concrete Stadium, there is space and splendour and almost unlimited viewing possibilities. To hear a Ferrari come up the long, gradual climb from Adenau, to burst into view on the approaches to the Karussell, brake heavily, accelerate round the 180-degree right-hander and storm up the hill to the Karussell itself and then disappear up the hill to Hohe Acht, and over the top, is to appreciate why people visit the Nurburgring in their thousands. That one section of the circuit, if looped round to join the ends together, and transported to England would have everyone raving over a circuit that would be better than Oulton Park, Brands Hatch and Donington Park put together. To see a Grand Prix car burst out of a wooded section as much as two miles away, and watch it come towards you across open country and then disappear over the brow of a hill and hear it on full song downhill until it is gone from earshot is to savour the Nurburgring to the full. If it is a driver who is proud of the title “Grand Prix driver” you will see the art of high-speed driving in action as nowhere else, as he accepts the driving challenge of the Nurburgring. You will not see the close racing as at a Stadium, but you will certainly see Grand Prix driving at its best and of the sort that makes you step back from the fence and whistle through your teeth as you mutter – “me!” The adrenalin flows for driver and spectator alike at the Nurburgring.
For this reason you spend little time in the pits or the paddock, you get in your car and drive round to various vantage points during practice because it is all worth seeing. It doesn’t take long so see which drivers revel in the challenge of the Nurburgring, from National pride like Stuck, Mass and Stommelen, or from acceptance of a real driving challenge like Hunt, Peterson, Pace, Laffite or Regazzoni. The weather in the Eifel mountains can be glorious or gloomy, and the Friday practice sessions of 1 1/2 hours in the morning and an hour in the afternoon were blessed with the Nurburgring being at its best. In spite of professing to be against the Nurburgring and actually leading the group of drivers who are trying to get it banned for Formula One, Niki Lauda rose above personal feelings and did a typical workmanlike job and made fastest lap in the morning, at 7 min. 08.2 sec., a long way off the expected 7 min. barrier. A strong headwind along the final straight made gearing tricky and it doesn’t need much in the way of “losing a little time here” and “a little there” for it to add up to 10 seconds. Last year Lauda recorded the fastest practice lap in 6 min. 58.6 sec., the only driver to break 7 minutes, while Carlos Pace recorded exactly 7 minutes. If Lauda had the same attitude to the Nurburgring as Stuck or Mass, it would be interesting to see how fast he could go. Even so, his average speed was around 120 m.p.h.
Permanent road course
Clay Regazzoni (Ferrari 312T), 7m06.4, 119.795 mph, F1, 1975
First Race1927 German Grand Prix