Hybrids & Electrics

Tesla Model S Nurburgring Record May Be Set By Nico Rosberg

Elon Musk is a ‘go big or go home’ kind of guy. He’s the CEO of multiple companies, including SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Heck, he even co-founded PayPal before he sold it off to work on other ventures. He doesn’t do anything halfway, and that’s probably true of his latest attempt to set a Nurburgring record with the Tesla Model S.

On September 5th, Musk tweeted six words: Model S on Nürburgring next week. It went largely unnoticed until Formula One World Champion racer Nico Rosberg replied to his tweet on September 7th, and then the internet went wild. Rosberg tweeted that if Musk wanted someone to drive the car, he’d be down. Musk took him up on it. And the rest is history. 

September 22 Update: Despite testing for multiple days and claiming to have potentially set a four-door EV record, Rosberg never appeared behind the wheel of the Tesla Model S. As Australia’s CarAdvice reports, in order to be allowed to drive a test car on the track, a driver needs a license that requires multiple days of training. Instead, Thomas Mutsch, a German GT3 driver was chosen to drive the Model S.

But not everyone thinks this feat will be easy to pull off. Musk is excellent at innovation, like wanting to colonize Mars or bringing Netflix to your car. His previous Tesla models are well-loved by high-end buyers, and he’s known repeatedly pushing back the introduction of always-around-the-corner robocars. But not everyone thinks Musk can do everything; he’s human after all. It’s more than just wondering if he’ll be able to do it though. It’s also a case of misunderstanding and jumping to conclusions. Let’s break down the chaos of Musk’s Nürburgring claims below.

Assumptions Abound

First, it wasn’t clear what Musk was talking about exactly. He only stated that the Model S would be at the famed track; he didn’t elaborate. That left interpretation up to the imaginations of reputable blogs like Road & Track. They were one of the first to assume that Musk must be talking about taking a run at the lap time clocked by the Porsche Taycan Turbo S, another electric car on the market.

This wasn’t far-fetched. Competition is exciting and proving yourself the best and most worthy is not only a great feeling but could help sell cars. The Model 3 can handle track duty, but the Tesla Model S is notorious for overheating. When Road & Track asked the German track about it, they told them that Tesla didn’t ask for a record lap or book a time slot. They also said they were fully booked for the season, meaning it would seem impossible for Musk and his Tesla to be speeding down the likes of those tracks anytime soon.

Clarification from Tesla

A day after the article was published, Tesla reached out to Road & Track to clarify what Musk meant. They are confirmed at the Nürburgring, just not for the reasons assumed. Tesla will be participating in the Industry Pool testing community; they’re confirmed and contracted. This means that they’ll be able to test and refine their vehicle on the track. There are some restrictions, though. There’s usually heavy traffic given that many automakers participate, you can’t run a complete lap at full speed, and it’s not allowed to be timed. 

Tesla Model S Record Challenges

But back to the original assumption that Musk was trying to outshine the Porsche Taycan. Here are some reasons given by Road & Track as well as other blogs as to why it just wouldn’t be feasible.

  1. The fastest Model S can beat the Taycan, but it isn’t about speed here. It’s about getting through the 13-mile track on the battery life and temperature limits of the car. 
  2. It’s about the experience. Yes, the driver matters, and no doubt Rosberg would be amazing, but the Model S has never seen the track, whereas Porsche is well-versed on what the track holds. 
  3. To do a record lap, you have to secure a spot. If there’s no track time available, you can’t run it, period. With Nürburgring already stating they don’t have any more slots available this season, the timing is off. 
  4. Autoblog.com points out that the Model S that’s been seen heading to Germany is a modified car. To truly be fair, it would need to be driven in stock form like the Taycan was.
  5. If it does happen, and Rosberg is slated to drive, there’s one problem. According to WhichCar.com, you need a specialized accreditation to get behind the wheel on this track, at least for the record-setting drives. 

What’s the Real Deal?

We know that Musk and his Tesla Model S prototype are in Germany for the Industry Pool, but CarBuzz.com stated that on September 21, Musk does have a 30-minute private time slot reserved. Most likely, we’ll have to wait and see if the Tesla Model S gets its chance to outshine its rival or not.