The Nordschleife’s Bergwerk corner is the most important bend on the Nurburgring when it comes to shaving off some lap time. This article looks at why it’s so crucial to get it right.
Where is Bergwerk corner on the Nurburgring?
At around 10km of the way around the Green Hell, Bergwerk corner pretty much marks the half-way point of a 21km Nordschleife lap.
Bergwerk is directly after the Lauda-Links ‘kink’, a pretty much flat out left-hander. Before that is Ex-Mühle, a steep uphill right hander that marks the start of a long climbing uphill section after passing through the lowest point of the circuit at Breidscheid moments earlier.
Why is it called Bergwerk?
Translated directly to English, Bergwerk means ‘mountain factory’ or ‘mountain work’. There used to be a lead and silver mine that was active near this part of the track until the early 1900s. Hence the name for the corner was taken from working this mine.
Read our other article for the history and meaning behind all Nurburgring corner names for more info.
The Nordschleife Bergwerk corner is quite deceptive. As you approach it it looks like a fairly standard slow to medium speed right hander. But there’s a couple of other things you need to know about it.
Firstly, the corner goes on for much longer than you first think. It’s well over 90 degrees, closer to 120 degrees, and the final part of the corner is slightly tighter than the beginning.
Secondly, like most corners on the Nordschleife there is no run off here. But this time I really mean no run off. None whatsoever. On both the entry and exit of the corner you have the track, the kerb, maybe a couple of inches of grass or leaves and then the armco barrier.
Is Bergwerk dangerous?
Six top professional racing drivers who have all competed in numerous Nurburgring 24 hour and VLN race events were interviewed by Red Bull. Two of the six said that Bergwerk was their choice for the scariest corner on the Nordschleife, and with good reason.
The complete lack of run off obviously makes this pretty risky. Plus there’s a 25 foot drop the other side of the barrier. Add in to that the fact you approach it at seriously high speed from the flat out and completely blind Lauda-Links beforehand, and you suddenly realise how crucial it is that you get your braking point right. Brake a touch too late and there is zero margin for error.
And lord forbid you suffer brake failure coming in to Bergwerk. That’s exactly what happened to our good friend Jonny in his E36 M3. Approaching the corner at over 100mph he went for the anchors and the pedal hit the floor. Through an incredible piece of reactive driving he miraculously kept it out of the barriers.
Additionally, Bergwerk and its braking zone are almost always in shadow. The trees lining the track edge overhang the circuit as much here as they do anywhere, dropping their leaves and sap directly on to the circuit. When it’s sunny and dry for some other parts of the circuit this bit can still be cold, wet and incredibly slippery. That makes the flat out approach from Lauda Links even more nerve-racking.
There’s even a warning sign on the way in to the corner that says ‘Achtung Rutschgefahr’ which means ‘Caution Slippery’. Ignore this advice at your peril.
Why is Bergwerk so important on the Nordschleife?
So why is Bergwerk the most important corner on the Nordschleife? Well directly after you exit the corner you begin a long uphill section. 1.4 miles or 2.3 km long, to be precise. It runs all the way through Kesselchen, Klostertal and Mutkurve until the hump just before Steilstrecke.
So long, gradual and painful is the uphill that in most things with less than 200bhp you will hit a terminal velocity before you reach the top of the hill or have to lift for one of the corners. You’ll probably even find yourself having to change back down a gear in to a sweeter spot in the rev range as the speed actually starts to drop off.
In my Clio 172 which weighs less than 1000kg and has 180bhp I was flat out for over 40 seconds from exiting Bergwerk to the point where I wimped out and lifted for Mutkurve.
The infamous 52bhp Citreon AX diesel that managed a sub-10 minute BTG lap spent over 80 seconds flat out up this hill!
And that makes Bergwerk crucial. Any good racing driver will tell you that any extra bit of speed you can carry out of a corner will carry all the way down the following straight. The longer that straight, the more important it is to get a good exit.
If you exit the corner 1mph higher, you’re at a 1mph advantage for the entire straight. You will still hit the top speed but you’ll get there 1mph sooner.
So the uphill run after Bergwerk isn’t straight, but it is flat out. Starting a 40 second (or more) flat-out section a few mph higher can make a big difference to your lap time. And I’m not talking tenths of a second. It can save whole seconds.
The ideal line
The key to getting a good exit from the Nurburgring Bergwerk corner is the turn in point. It’s much, much later you think, as the corner is much tighter than 90 degrees.
You actually have to hug the outside of the circuit as it starts to turn right before turning in towards the apex. Get on the power as soon as possible and don’t come off it again. The kerb on the exit is big but you can normally use it in most road cars to help carry some extra speed.
Here’s me in my Clio doing a half decent job demonstrating the ideal line.
Turn in too early and you’ll find yourself running too wide whilst the corner is still tightening. That means you’ll have to get off the throttle again, costing you precious exit speed.
Spectating at Bergwerk
Bergwerk is actually pretty easy to spectate at, and is only a 10 minute drive from the Nordschleife main entrance.
The L10 road runs from Adenau / Breidscheid and a little way down it there is a side road. Take this side road and a few metres along it you will be directly next to the Nordschleife Bergwerk corner. You can park on this side road and then walk a few paces up a short steep slope through the bushes and you are right behind the catch fencing on the outside of the corner, only a few feet away from circuit itself.
It’s probably the closest you can actually get to the track as a spectator and offers amazing views of the cars going past right in front of you.