What’s the Best Way to Set a Nürburgring Lap Record?

Canopy Simulations ran 10,000 simulated laps of varying car configurations to find out the single best way to conquer the 'Ring.

An almost endless variety in the configuration of cars have tackled the Nürburgring with the hopes of setting a lap record. 2017 alone has seen numerous attempts by different groups and their cars to seize the record for themselves, including, but not limited to the mid-engined, all-wheel-drive Lamborghini Huracan Performante, the front-mid-engined, rear wheel drive Dodge Viper ACR, the mid-engined, rear drive McLaren P1 LM, and the rear-everything Porsche 911 GT2 RS. One thing is clear, nobody can agree what the best format for a Nürburgring king is, so the motorsport simulation gurus at Canopy Simulations tried to answer that with the wizardry that is the brute force of 10,000 simulated laps.

The common variables, identical among all car configurations, are as follows: 3858 pounds (1750 kilograms), 1,341 horsepower, and 1984 lbs (900 kg) of downforce at 161.5 mph (260 kph).

Variables that were manipulated between lap simulations included weight distribution, aero balance, mechanical balance, automatic brake proportioning, and on all wheel drive vehicles, torque split. The drive types tested include front, rear, and all-wheel-drive, as well as a torque-vectored all-wheel-drive.

The clear loser was front wheel drive, which set a simulated best time of 6:45.51, with 74 percent front weight distribution, and 82 percent frontal aero bias.

Next up, 7.6 seconds ahead of front-wheel-drive, was rear-wheel-drive, found to be capable of 6:37.9, with an ideal setup of 33 percent frontal weight distribution, and 24 percent of downforce on the front axle.

All-wheel-drive had rear-wheel-drive beaten by a further 6.1 seconds, to the tune of a simulated 6:31.8. This was achieved with a comparatively modest 55 percent front weight distribution, 54 percent frontal aero balance, and a 35 percent frontal torque split.

But of course, the smart version of all-wheel-drive, complete with torque vectoring, had its dumb counterpart beaten by yet another 8.7 seconds, allowing for a 6:22.3 lap. This version found success with an even tamer 53 percent frontal weight distribution, but regressed to crazy with aero balance, opting for 35 percent frontal.

Will we see lap times such as these from road cars anytime soon? In some cases, maybe, but in others, never. We can’t imagine any car company producing a front-wheel-drive car with a megawatt of power, though a rear-wheel-drive car—ahem—is considerably more likely.

As long as humanity makes supercars, it will fight for the right to call its newest creations the fastest. Let’s see how closely future Nürburgring record contenders match the ideal formats predicted by Canopy Simulations.