- Sam Bird's track preview
Bird's eye view of the NurburgringSam Bird July 3, 2013
GP2 driver Sam Bird gives ESPN his track guide to the Nurburgring ahead of this weekend's race
The modern Nurburgring is a good little circuit but it sits in the shadow of the mighty Nordschleife. I think it would be better if the GP2 race was just a five lap sprint around the Nordschleife, although I don't know how many cars would come back around for the second lap! We'd have to run with Monaco ride heights and full wing just to stand a chance, but it would be brilliant! I tweeted recently that I'd love to take a Formula One car round like Michael Schumacher did earlier this year. In the meantime I'm focusing on the shorter track next door and hoping for another successful weekend.
Heading into turn one it's downhill, quite undulating and very bumpy. It's a challenge because you're turning as well as braking into this corner and it's very easy to understeer here or lock-up and go straight on. It's really crucial to get it right on a qualifying lap because it sets the lap up initially if you can get this corner done. Also your line out of the corner dictates how you take turn two, which is a long uphill left hander that goes into a downhill exit.
As soon as you're out of turn two you have a very short straight and then you're braking into turn three, which is a long and slow left hander where you have to be very patient on the throttle. It's a corner that leads straight into another corner and you really have to prepare in turn three for turn four - that's turn three's purpose really because you need a good exit out of four. In the race it's going to be an area where people hurt their rear tyres and in qualifying you need to be nice and tidy to get a clean exit.
After turn four, the rest of the circuit flows quite nicely and is quite fast. Sector one, which is the most technical and fiddly sector, is behind you and then you get into the fun part of the circuit. The fast left-hand turn five goes into a downhill right hander at turn six that is slightly off camber. There is a small kerb on the exit that looks quite high on the track walk but you can put two tyres onto that kerb and still get a good exit. Then it's a downhill medium-length straight before a bumpy braking zone that brings you into a really fun banked hairpin at turn seven.
Exiting seven you are going back uphill and into the fast Schumacher S, which is where Lewis Hamilton had a huge off in 2007. He flew into the barriers at high speed, which was a pretty serious accident! Then it's into another left/right change of direction at the top of the circuit. You brake about 50 metres before turn nine, take quite a lot of the kerb on the inside for the first left and run out wide to the exit before bringing the car all the way back again to the left-hand side of the circuit. You need a slight lift of the throttle for the right hander at turn ten and then you get back on the power and use all the kerb on the exit to give you a good run down the back straight.
For the final chicane you go forward on the brake bias because it's uphill braking - you need to do that to ensure you don't lock up the rears. In the chicane you can really monster the kerbs in the Formula One car and it's pretty much the same in a GP2 car to straightline the chicane a little bit, but don't use too much of the kerb on the exit because it's easy to get trapped on it and when you do that you lose time.
The final corner is a little bit bumpy and kind of like the final corner at the Hungaroring. It's a medium speed, long radius right hander leading on to the start finish straight. You use all the kerb available to you on the exit of the track, right up to the gravel trap, and then you're across the line to start another lap.
I've had two feature race wins in a row now and I'd love to make that three in a row this weekend. But this is a different challenge for us, another new track for Russian Time, so we'll just have to take it step by step.
Sam Bird writes for ESPNF1 ahead of every GP2 round