Elon Musk Claims Tesla Model S Plaid Set A Nurburgring Lap Record (Updated)
The Tesla CEO says the Model S Plaid has snatched the crown for electric production cars at the famous German racetrack.
The Nürburgring was once a long and treacherous race track in Germany. Now, it's so much more than that. It's the venue for the ultimate pissing contest between automakers; a crucible in which domination over one's rivals can be proven unambiguously against the stopwatch. Tesla has visited once more, bringing out the Model S Plaid to seize the production car lap record for electric vehicles. According to CEO Elon Musk, the company has achieved just that.
Update: 09/10/21 2:09 a.m. ET: Tesla have released a video of the slower of the two listed laptimes from the Twitter post. The post has been updated below to reflect this information.
Tweeting this evening on the event, Musk shared a timeslip to Twitter indicating a best laptime of 7:30.909 around the famous circuit. The claim is that this lap was achieved with a Tesla Model S Plaid that was "Completely unmodified, directly from factory." Reportedly an official time in Musk's words, it bests the previous record set by the Porsche Taycan Turbo which laid down a time of 7:42.3 in August 2019.
For those eager to split hairs, the car may not be entirely stock. Photos shared by MotorAuthority of a red Tesla Model S Plaid spotted at the Nürburgring this week clearly show a round steering wheel installed in the vehicle. Given that the controversial yoke is standard in the Plaid, with no option for a tradition wheel, this suggests that in at least one way, the car isn't exactly showroom spec. YouTuber Touristen Niko was also at the 'Ring on the 9th of September, and posted a video showing a red and a black Tesla Model S Plaid getting around the circuit.
The next step for Tesla will be running a Model S Plaid explicitly modified for better track performance. The plan is for "added aero surfaces, carbon brakes & track tires" as stated by Musk, to help cut the laptime even further. These things may be done "without Tesla being in the loop" suggesting that the company may be working with an outside group to set a faster time. In response to a customer query regarding the availability of such parts for customers, the CEO indicated that Tesla will not provide these directly, instead recommending aftermarket workshops for such modifications.
The event also raised questions of if and when the Model S Plaid will receive a "Track Pack" for optimized performance in such situations. The Tesla CEO hedged, stating that a software update would be "probably a few weeks away" from delivery.
If official, the time is an impressive one, and will lay down the gauntlet to Porsche who will surely wish to wrestle the record back in short order. However, Tesla's time still fell short of other four-door production sedans like the Jaguar XE SV Project 8 which set a record of 7:18.36 back in 2019. Notably, it's also slower than Tesla claimed could be possible when it first started testing Plaid prototypes at the 'Ring several years ago. Back then, there were reports of times as low as 7:13, with Tesla claiming in 2019 that a 7:05 might even be possible.
Thus far, we're yet to see confirmation from the Nürburgring but we'll be keeping a close eye on the record books for the official final word. Either way, expect Porsche to be preparing its next salvo in return.
A few hours post-publication, Tesla dropped a video showing the slower of the two laptimes from the timesheet posted to Twitter—7:35.579 around the 20.83 km Nordschleife circuit. Notably, the Model S Plaid in this video is fitted with the steering yoke, which looks difficult to try and hold on to at racing speeds.
The car does feature some additional timing equipment and a digital dash add-on, though the yoke itself is in place unlike the photos seen elsewhere. The mirror seen out the driver's side window suggests this is a red Tesla Model S Plaid, however. Whether or not Tesla changed out the steering wheel pictured, or whether it brought more cars than was initially suspected is unclear at this stage.
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