If you are the one person among your friends with a manual-shift car, you may worry about letting someone else learn on your car. They might wear out your clutch! Trust me, that’s nothing compared to letting an F1 driver take the helm, at least in the case of the great Robert Kubica, a BMW M4 and the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
Here is the run, if you haven’t seen it. A real joy:
Now, the ’Ring is a special place. A mile on the Nordschleife — the north loop course — is not like a mile on the road, even though the most daunting race track on the planet is technically a public toll road. (When you see tourists on open days, they’re not even in helmets.)
The ’Ring is a roller coaster that goes on for 21 km. It’s not low-speed hairpins, either. It’s flat-out over crests, high-speed sweeping corners that dip and compress and punish both your internal organs and every component on your car.
This has two consequences. The first is that rental agencies have sprung up in the little villages bordering the track so that people can rent something that’s not their own car to punish for a few laps. The second is that these rental agencies have very busy service departments, ones that know how to rebuild and replace every wear item on those cars. Every “consumable” gets consumed on a ’Ring rental, from brake pads on. These rental agencies are businesses, and they know exactly how long a part should last given light driving, or at least light in the context of the Nordschleife. (That means, in no small part, staying off of the tall and unforgiving curbs lining the track.)
So what happens when you put a flat-out-as-can-be Formula 1 and rally driver like Robert Kubica behind the wheel of a track-prepped BMW M4? Everything that might wear out in 200 to 300 laps wears out in one session alone. Kubica did around 50 laps, eating curbs the whole way, and he sent a complete set of wheel bearings to heaven, as explained by Misha Charoudin of Apex Nürburg. (Look for the McLarens and whatnot sticking a nose out into the street in Nürburg, just down the block from where everyone spies BMW prototypes, and around the corner from Pistenklause.)
Aside from a set of wheel bearings, Kubica ate about half of the brake pads, new and replaced just before he got on track.
What’s funny is that he would have gone straight down to the metal if he had any form of traction or stability control turned on, the Apex mechanic explains. Having those systems on manages the car and keeps it from sliding by grabbing a little bit of brake wheel by wheel, and being on the limit that long would have eaten up the whole system.
Apex did a full oil change after Kubica, probably wise, and Kubica got new tires halfway through his session, at about 20 laps. The previous set had been on for about 20 laps as well. They were cooked. (That tracks with their normal wear rate of about 50 laps for a set on the car, per the mechanic.) It’s just funny that Kubica basically went through a full set of tires in one go. These are Nankang AR-1s, so Kubica ate something north of a grand’s worth of tires.
That and Kubica got the exhaust hot enough to melt the bottom of the bumper. Not bad, bud.