How to Learn the Nurburgring – all the Best Tools

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

How to Learn the Nurburgring

At 13 miles long and with anywhere between 73 and 170 corners depending on who you listen to, the Nurburgring Nordschleife is the longest race circuit in the world. So trying to learn the Nurburgring can seem like a very daunting prospect. 

In this article we have listed every worthwhile tool and resource out there to help you on your way to conquering the circuit. Everything from YouTube tutorials and the best racing simulators, to written guides and driver training days on the Ring itself. We’ve got you covered.

Contents

Why learn the Nurburgring?

If you have read our article on why the Nurburgring is so dangerous, you will have seen that one of the top reasons so many accidents happen here is because people don’t know the circuit. They enter a corner with completely the wrong speed or line and, with so little run off area, they are in the armco before they know it.

Trying to learn the Nurburgring before you head out for your first real laps is an invaluable use of your time. Not only will it be more enjoyable if you know what is coming up next, but it will also be much safer for you, your passengers and other drivers. It will also stop you ending up on a Youtube highlights reel for people crashing at Adenauer Forst.

Why is it so hard to learn?

Nurburgring Corner Names, Numbers and circuit mapMost race circuits are a few KM long and may have up to 10 or 15 corners maximum. The Nurburgring has over 80 corners.

Aside from its length and the number of corners, the Nordschleife is unique in that you are pretty much always cornering. There are very few truly straight sections of track, meaning one turn always leads in to the next and then the next. Getting one corner wrong can mean that the next few are wrong too.

Add in to the mix that a lot of the circuit’s surroundings are featureless. Mostly surrounded by trees on both sides, many corners can look the same. This makes it easy to forget where you are on track and not know what is coming up next.

How long does it take to learn the Nurburgring?

Learning the Nordschleife is a multi-stage process. You don’t simply start out knowing nothing and then 10 laps later become a Ringmeister.

If you head out for some laps during tourist driving without any prior knowledge, research or attempts to familiarise yourself with the track then you are making life harder for yourself. But putting some real life laps in is undoubtedly the best way to learn, albeit the most expensive and most risky.

Learning the Nordschleife on the RSR driving academy

To get to the first stage where you know what corner is coming up next, but not necessarily the ideal line or speed, can take a few dozen laps. But to get to the stage where you know every inch of tarmac, kerbing and the optimal line at every point can take much, much longer. A lot of Nurburgring verterans will tell you it takes hundreds, if not thousands of laps to properly learn the circuit to this level.

And that is just for learning the track in the dry. In the wet everything changes; each surface has a different grip level, each corner has an entirely different line, each kerb is now a different level of slippery. To fully learn the track in the rain, you need to put the same amount of laps in again in the wet.

However, there are a lot of tools available to help you increase the speed you learn the circuit. Because everyone learns in different ways, these tools span a number of different mediums. In the remainder of the article we list all of the tools you can use to help learn the Nurburgring.

1. YouTube video tutorials

Before you get some seat-time yourself (whether for real or on a driving simulator), it may be useful to familiarise yourself with the track. Having an idea of the circuit in your head, even if relatively vague, can help massively when you get behind the wheel.

A good way to do this is using YouTube video tutorials. Below are the two best ones available.

Bradley Philpot – 5 part series on learning the Ring in under 1 hour

This video series is probably the best place to start if you are new to the circuit. 

Bradley Philpot is a very accomplished racing driver, having twice been crowned champion of the Nurburgring VLN racing series. His credentials at the Nordschleife speak for themselves when you read through his racing career summary. 

He has created a 5-part video series helping us to learn the Nurburgring in 5 separate sections. This is super helpful. It means each video is shorter and more manageable and less daunting than trying to learn it all in one hit, and it means that you can focus on one section of the circuit at a time.

Bradley Philpot's three trees method to learn the nurburgring

In each part of this series he runs through the section of track 3 times on a driving simulator. The first time through he describes each corner name. Not only does he name the corners, but he gives the meaning behind the name along with a little diagram or stupid emoji. This is a great strategy; when you are starting out you need something to help you differentiate one corner from the next. 

Some of these little emojis or stories behind the corner names are very memorable and will stick with you when you’re behind the wheel. His ‘Three Trees’ method on how to learn the Hohe Acht to Pflanzgarten I section, including the infamous Brunchen corner, is very novel. 

The 2nd and 3rd runs through each section are at a gradually increased paced, where he describes the racing line, braking and turn in points.

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Driver61 & Adam Christodoulou - Nurburgring Circuit Guide

Scott Mansell (Driver61) is a well respected racing driver, but openly admits he hasn’t driven many laps at the Ring. So he brings in Adam Christodoulou, the 2016 Nurburgring 24 hour winner, to help guide us through this video.

This Nurburgring circuit guide is pretty mammoth – it’s almost 3 hours long. But it is INCREDIBLY detailed. It looks at everything – reference points alongside the track, where to position you car when braking for each corner, where to be looking as you approach next corners, which kerbs to avoid, apex points and much more.

Almost three hours long can make it seem a bit daunting, so to help break it down Driver 61 has provided a PDF circuit map and section guide template where you can write notes on each of the sections of the circuit (linked to the video timestamps).

The detail of this video is amazing and probably best suited to drivers who have done a number of laps, have an idea of where the circuit goes and now want to begin honing and perfecting the racing line, especially as some of the crucial corners such as Bergwerk.

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2. Driving Simulators

Sometimes to truly learn a track you have to get some seat time yourself. A great way of doing this without having to get yourself to Germany is to hop on one of the many driving simulators.

Do not think, however, that because you have mastered the track on a game means your can be a first-lap hero. You will be in for a shock in real life – no driving simulator can recreate the undulations, elevation changes or just how slippery the surface can be in the wet.

We are just going to look at three different driving sims. There are more out there that have the Nordschleife on them, but the three below are, for us, the best going.

Gran Turismo Sport and Gran Turismo 7

Older versions of Gran Turismo also had the Nordschleife, but GT Sport and GT 7 are listed in particular as they both have ‘Circuit Experience’ mode. This gameplay allows you to break a circuit up in to sections. The Nordschleife is broken in to 12 sections. Each one has a target lap time and when you reach it, you can progress on to the next section. Once all sections are completed, you move on to a full lap challenge.

Learning the circuit in sections on a simulator is a great tool. Being able to skip to the start of a certain sequence of corners, rather than having to restart or do another whole lap is massively time saving and lets you learn the whole course evenly.

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Gran Turismo circuit experience mode

Assetto Corsa

This is specific to Assetto Corsa, not Asetto Corsa Competizione as that version does not have the Nordschleife.

Asseto Corsa has great driving physics, arguably the best of all the mainstream driving simulators. The Nordschleife is available on the base level of the game and is laser scanned so you are getting top notch accuracy. There is no equivalent of GT’s circuit experience mode here, so it is not easy to split the track up in to sections. Either do full laps, keep restarting or turn around and do the same sequence of corners again.

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The Nurburgring Nordschleife on Assetto Corsa

iRacing

The iRacing team have history at the Ring. Way before any of the modern driving sims, the only way you could get some digitial practice behind the wheel at the Nordschleife was on Grand Prix Legends – the first driving game to have a (rough) version of the track.

The team behind that GPL track are the same team who now work at iRacing. With 21st century technology they have created what is arguably the most accurate version of the track. 

Like the two sims above the circuit is laser scanned, but they have gone what feels a few percent further in accurately recreating the track’s surroundings. Because the location of the ‘Ring is a huge part of what makes it, the accuracy of every bit of scenery makes a big difference in transferring your sim knowledge to real life.

The video below shows the passion and effort that went in to creating the Nordschleife for iRacing.

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3. Written Circuit Guides

Maybe you’re old school and you learn best from studying something that is written down in front of you. Or maybe you are keen to find every additional aide to boost your ability to learn the Nurburgring.

Even in this era of YouTube videos and Virtual Reality gameplay, there are a few written Nurburgring circuit guides that still have their place. Whilst they are all a little outdated, the ones we list below all break the circuit down, corner by corner, and do so with a level of detail that you wouldn’t get from driving the track on a sim or watching some laps on YouTube.

The Ideal Line Concept - 99 Euros

This is the self-titled Compendium for the Nordschleife. The Ideal Line Concept was put together by instructors from the  Scuderia Hanseat, a group of Nurburgring veterans with more laps under their combined belt than you could ever imagine. 

The Ideal Line Concept consists of three parts: maps, a book and a film. The maps show either each corner or a section of corners, with the ideal line and a full description of each turn’s intricacies highlighted. The book contains hundreds of photos, showing a row of classic Porsches visualising the racing line for each corner. Finally, the film is a full lap of the Ring driven at 60kmh, narrated and instructed the whole way.

The Ideal Line Concept using Porsches to help learn the Nurburgring
The Ideal Line concept showing a map of the Nordschleife

Each of the 3 parts of the Ideal Line Concept ties together beautifully. You can study all three simulataneously as each references the other. It comes in a beautiful folder and feels like a physical work of art.

It is quite old now – we first got our hands on a copy of this in 2008, so there may be some bits of the Ring and its surroundings that now look slightly different. But this is well worth a look for 99 Euros. 

Link to Ideal Line Concept website and shop

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The Ideal Line Concept for the Nurburgring

CircuitGuides.com Nurburgring Guide - £19

We haven’t had our own hands on a copy of this, however we have used CircuitGuides.com for UK circuit guides and they are fantastic. They provide an incredibly detailed breakdown of the circuit, corner by corner, using sketches and explanations. 

The Nurburgring guide was written by Ron Simmons, a Nurburgring veteran and head honcho of RSR Nurburg track car rental / coaching company. What Ron doesn’t know about the Ring isn’t worth teaching.

The guide is 140 pages long and includes everything from learning the track to the best places to eat locally. It also gives you some pointers on driving in the wet. Again, it came out a while ago now, but it will still be mostly relevant and may well serve as a handy tool to carry round with you when you visit the track, to help perfect some of your wayward lines.

Link to CircuitGuides.com Nurburgring Guide

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Circuitguides.com nurburgring guide

SpeedSecrets - Ross Bentley's Guide to the Nurburgring - Free

Ross Bentley is a very well known track and race driver coach in the USA. He runs Speed Secrets, an online driving tuition platform with a huge resouce of driving tips, track guides and more. Ross has hosted driving seminars at the Nurburgring with RSRNurburg, so he knows his Flugplatz from his Foxhole.

Tucked away on his website is a 10-part corner-by-corner free guide to the Nordschleife. He uses screenshots of an on-board lap of the Ring, combined with text, to describe car placement, the line, turn-in points, apex points and more for every single corner. 

I can’t find where these are in the menu structure on his website, so below are the links using the search function:

Link to SpeedSecrets Nurburgring guide parts 1 – 5

Link to SpeedSecrets Nurburgring guide parts 6 – 10

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Speed Secretes Nurburgring guide with Ross Bentley

SportAuto Nordschleife Guide - Free

This one is a bit of a bonus as it’s free. The guys from SportAuto magazine, way back in 2003, put together this extra publication; a 28 page guide to the Ring, corner-by-corner, written by ex BMW works team driver Jörg Müller.

Whilst the birds-eye-view sketches of the track may not be 100% accurate, the hints and tips from Jörg on things to look out for make this worth reading alone.

Remember it was published almost 20 years ago, so kerbs, braking markers and references points may well have changed. But give it a read regardless, you may just learn the Nurburgring a little bit more than you did before.

Link to SportAuto Nurburgring Nordschleife guide PDF

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The SportAuto guide to learn the Nurburgring

4. Driving Academies

If you’ve got money to spend and you want THE best way to learn the Ring, then signing up to a driving academy on the circuit itself is the way to do it. 

The format of these vary from company to company. Essentially, however, you will get a number of days on and around the Ring. There may be any combination of track walks, classroom sessions, group lead-follow sessions, section training, 1-on-1 instructor training and open lapping.

Porsches and other cars stopped on the circuit during a Scuderia Hanseat driving academy

The instructors will all be seasoned Nurburgring pros who will have huge amounts of knowledge to impart on you. If you are serious about wanting to learn the Nurburgring, and are happy to spend serious money then unquestionably this is the way to do it.

The below is a list of some companies we know who offer these driving academies. Click the links to go to their websites and learn more about what each has to offer:

5. Instructors

Having a Nurburgring veteran sit next to you, even for one lap, can be incredibly valuable. If you are at the Ring, even if you think you are slowly ‘getting it’, having some instruction is definitely a worthwhile investment as it will help you learn the Nurburgring in more detail than you thought possible.

Harry-Flatters offers instruction and coaching on the Ring for drivers of all experience levels, provided by a current Nurbugring professional race driver.

Alternatively, to find an instructor when you’re at the Ring, on a busy day you can head to the corner of the main car park where the rental cars are parked and ask one of the companies there. 

Otherwise check out our list of Nurburgring track car rental companies – each of these will have instructors more than happy to come out with you. Drop them a message to arrange a time to join you for a lap. Other

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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Mike

Very good article. Thanks!

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