What are the quickest cars to ever lap the fabled Green Hell? Wonder no more, here are the fastest Nürburgring car lap times ever recorded.
To be quick on the ‘Ring, a car needs it all. The best suspension, the grippiest tires, serious engine power; it’s all got to be there. As such, you’ll only find top-tier performance cars on this shortlist.
There are a number of reasons why the Nürburgring is unusual as a racetrack. There’s the sheer length of it, of course, meaning that it’s entirely possible to experience four seasons of weather in a single lap. Then, there’s the staggering complexity, which requires years to master; true Ringmeisters know the minutiae of every curve, crest and camber, although you don’t pick up this knowledge overnight.
Can I Drive On The Nürburgring?
But what’s perhaps most noteworthy, given that it’s a circuit designed from the outset to be a formidable race venue, is that it’s arguably not best known for its racing. Sure, there’s a rich and vibrant calendar of events at the ’Ring, from touring car battles to the annual circus of the 24-hour race and beyond, but to the average person on the street, the ’Ring is a toll road. A fancy one that only goes one way, but it’s the touristenfahrten which really inspires people.
The fact that you can turn up in any car you like, pay a few Euros (well, more than a few these days…), and drive as fast as you’re physically able around an iconic and revered circuit, that’s what gets people going. The further fact that the track has a fearsome reputation as an almighty car-breaker in the wrong hands – as well as the myths, rumours and half-truths around how financially devastating it can be if you do get it wrong – means that people who are making an effort to restyle themselves as Ringmeisters enjoy a tangible halo of reverence. Because the mark of a true Nürburgring hero is the lap time. The numbers that signify just one hot jaunt around the track. And as we’re about to explore, these digits sit in some pretty esteemed company…
Fastest Nürburgring Car Lap Times
Honda Civic Type R FL5
Lap Time: 7:44:80 (2023)
In the rarefied company of the cars we’ll go on to talk about, perhaps seven minutes and forty-four seconds doesn’t sound all that mind-blowing. But this isn’t some jewel-like and highly-strung hypercar we’re looking at here, nor is it a full-blown race car. Nope, this is a Honda Civic, an everyday runabout that’s been engineered to be spacious enough for tip runs and family holidays, with baked-in reliability for road-tripping or nipping to Tesco’s. And when Honda unveiled the latest-generation Civic Type R, the FL5, and chucked it at the Eifel mountains, the results were astounding.
In fact, in the hands of Néstor Girolami, the FL5 instantly scooped the record for front-wheel-drive hot hatches, adding to a growing list of lap records it’s set at various other venues across the world. And remember: in order to hold this record, the car in question has to be essentially identical to one that you can stroll into a showroom and buy. Yes, they fitted it with Michelin Cup 2s, but your friendly Honda dealer will happily fit them to your Civic too if you ask nicely. And then you can proudly boast that you’re among the pantheon of Nürburgring record holders.
Porsche 911 Dakar
Lap Time: 7:39:40 (2023)
What makes this time so impressive is that not all of it took place on the track in the traditional sense. It’s the fastest lap that includes using all the grass!
We’ve all seen the fail compilation videos of people on the ’Ring skating the turf and ending up having a really bad time. We’ve all missed a corner on a video game lap and found ourselves in unsavable spins. But the really cool thing here is that the 911 Dakar is deliberately cutting the corners and off-roading at ludicrous speed. The concept of ‘track limits’ has gone entirely out of the window.
Driver Christian Gebhardt effortlessly transitions from tarmac to vegetation without breaking a sweat, to demonstrate just what an impressive piece of machinery the new 911 Dakar is. Putting in a hot lap of the Nürburgring is hard… but putting in a hot lap while purposefully getting it wrong and not crashing? Well, that’s pretty heroic.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
Lap time: 6:44.97 (2018)
It’s extremely pleasing to have a Lamborghini in this list. Naturally the company name has been synonymous with the cult of the supercar ever since the Miura broke cover, but there have always been detractors who postulated that vast swells of horsepower and Italianate theatrics were no substitute for poise and agility. Well, the Aventador SVJ has both.
With 760bhp ripping the very fabric of space-time from its shrieking nat-asp V12, intelligent aero that increases downforce by 40% over the stock Aventador SV, and the unflappable factory helmsman Marco Mapelli at the controls, the big Lambo smashed out a lap time of 6:44 back in 2018. Sure, it’s a second and a bit behind the Black Series Merc, and there was a time when such a disparity might’ve raised an eyebrow, but you can’t argue with results, and the two cars are very different entities. If you want drama, you want a Lambo – and this is just about the most dramatic there is.
Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series
Lap time: 6:43.616 (2020)
How do you define ‘production car’? Technically, the Mercedes-AMG One holds the record, but you can’t exactly walk into your local dealer and find one. Similarly, the official second place slot is held by the Porsche 911 GT2 RS, but that one was fitted with the optional Manthey Racing upgrades, so does that count? It’s open to interpretation really, but there’s no denying that the third-place car is a winner for many: the Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series.
An astonishing motor car with a 720bhp flat-plane-cranked twin-turbo V8 that delivers its peak power at a howling 7,200rpm; it’s got carbon everything and oodles of downforce, and demolished the ’Ring in a staggering 6:43:616 – a near-enough identical time to the McLaren P1 XP1 LM, with the ability to carry a full suite of luggage if need be. Absolutely bonkers.
McLaren P1 XP1 LM Prototype
Lap time: 6:43.22 (2017)
The McLaren P1 is a terrifying thing in its own right, and the XP1 LM prototype amped things up to a whole other level. It’s all thanks to the adrenaline junkies at Lanzante Motorsport, who – after the production run of the P1 was complete – commissioned the Bespoke division of McLaren Special Operations to build another half-dozen P1 GTRs so that Lanzante could convert them into road-legal LM variants. The sixth car of this extra run became the XP1 LM prototype, retained as a development and test car and sporting a rolling list of mods and upgrades.
In 2016, fitted with massive aero, Lexan windows, lightweight charge-coolers and Inconel/titanium exhausts (as well as having its air jack system deleted and various other weight reductions), it recorded the fastest ever time for a road car up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with Kenny Bräck driving. The following year it went to the Nürburgring, again with Bräck, and knocked a full four seconds off the regular P1 GTR’s time. That was on road-legal tires too, and the XP1 LM drove back to the UK on those same tires afterwards. Indeed, the only thing that made it not road-legal on its ’Ring lap was that they’d removed the front number plate!
Lap time: 6:35.183 (2022)
There was a bit of a build-up to this one. When Mercedes-Benz announced that they were going to be making a road-going hypercar with an actual Formula One engine in it, everyone got very excited. The 2017 concept had us all frothing. But then, as it turned out, building a reliable road car with an F1 motor is actually quite hard, because they’re not designed to do things like pop to the shops or idle in a traffic jam. But they eventually made it work, and when the Mercedes-AMG One finally rolled up to the Nordschleife in 2022, expectations were high.
And it didn’t disappoint. DTM driver Maro Engel was the man at the helm, and the blistering pace he set chipped a full eight seconds off the production car lap record – and it’s worth remembering that the conditions were far from ideal, and he had to manage the hybrid system throughout the lap to ensure he didn’t run out of puff on the final straight. So we can take 6:35 as the One’s starting point, with more to come…
Lap time: 6:11.13 (1983)
This is the one. The legend, the hero, the timeless classic. It may no longer stand as the fastest lap of the Nürburgring, but it’s the lap that will always be whispered about in reverential tones by seasoned racers who’ve seen a few things.
Firmly gripping the wheel of his Porsche 956, 25-year-old Stefan Bellof headed out for a quali lap for the Nürburgring 1000km in May 1983, little suspecting that the next six minutes and eleven seconds would turn him into a household name for petrolheads for decades onward. And a subsequent layout change helped to seal the deal, whereby Le Mans prototypes would stop using the Nordschleife competitively and the GP circuit would be integrated into the lap, meaning that Bellof’s record would stand for a staggering thirty-five years. It’s just a shame no-one thought to video the whole thing.
Lap Time: 6:05.336 (2019)
The Green Hell hummed to the rhythm of volts as a new dawn of performance unveiled itself in 2019. Volkswagen’s imposing ID.R looked like some manner of slippery amphibian, fresh from the rainforests to come and show these fossil fuel-burning entities another way.
And the hyperintelligent VW really did put on a show. Making a sound reminiscent of your laptop’s cooling fan going into overdrive, the car boasted a 670bhp motor and 44kWh battery pack pinched from the company’s Formula E race car, and it ripped around the Nürburgring at a rate quicker than most onlookers’ eyes were able to keep pace with. Averaging 128mph around the undulating circuit, its honed aero setup and fearless pilot (Romain Dumas) ensured a lap time that would go down in the history books. It certainly gave the old guard something think about.
Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo
Lap time: 5:19.546 (2018)
This, frankly, is an eye-watering number. Watching the footage, it looks as if it’s playing back on fast-forward, it really is hard to believe it’s real. How can a machine cheat physics with such alacrity, how can a driver react so rapidly and so effectively? The 919’s 5:19 lap will undoubtedly be remembered by future generations alongside the pyramids and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, remarkable feats of creativity and endeavor by humanity that can surely never be repeated.
This all happened because Porsche, keen to mark its 70th anniversary, wanted to do something with a bit of impact, and modified their Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid with the aim of taking lap records at circuits across Europe. This it achieved, and of course the ’Ring was always going to be the jewel in the crown. With Timo Bernhard behind the wheel, the Nürburgring lap record wasn’t just surpassed, but absolutely smashed to pieces, the Porsche beating the existing record by nearly a minute. Which is just insane.
With 1,144bhp propelling 850kg, it was always going to be quick. And with Bernhard’s healthy disdain for the concept of fear, it morphed into something iconic.
You, in a variety of cars
Lap time: sub-5:00:00 (whenever you like)
Lapping the Nordschleife in real life is scary. There’s so much potential for peril, so many opportunities to make an absolute pig’s ear of it and entomb yourself in a tangle of folded metal.
But sitting on your sofa is a lot less daunting, isn’t it? If you’re driving the track virtually, it’s rather less life-changing if you misjudge an apex or clip a bit of wet grass and spang your priceless race car into the Armco at double-ton velocity. This is where we’re all late-night heroes. We’ve all been there. It’s 1am, everyone’s gone to bed, you’re sitting there with a potent drink on one side and a bowl of salty snacks on the other, psyching yourself up for one last banzai lap of the Green Hell. You grab the controller and pick the fastest car in your garage. rit your teeth. You won’t be blinking for the next five minutes. All or nothing, hell for leather, diving for the sort of angles that even Senna would have thought twice about.
Sure, a Gran Turismo lap isn’t real. But in the dead of night, with no-one around and no jeopardy of potential damage bills to concern you, it’s more than real enough.