The Nürburgring Nordschleife: 12.9-miles and 154 corners of tarmac that undulates its way deep in the Eifel mountains. Its constant changes in gradient and articulation make it one of the world’s most challenging circuits – a perfect place to test performance cars, and more recently a place to break records in the world’s fastest cars. It’s an amazing place, and with manufacturers fighting amongst themselves to break the sacred lap record, we’ve run down the top ten fastest of all time.
Though it’s far from an objective indicator of a car’s overall performance, there’s no denying that a machine with a Nürburgring lap record earns a level of respect from any enthusiast. As a symbol of pride then, not to mention a very useful marketing tool, the ‘Ring remains king.
> evo Leaderboard lap times – the world’s fastest cars tested on track
Top 10 Nürburgring lap times
1. Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo – 5:19.546 – 2018
To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Porsche took its 919 Evo – a modified version of its Le Mans-winning 919 Hybrid – to set lap records at a handful of European circuits. The 919 Evo obliterated the all-time Nordschleife lap record, with driver Timo Bernhard the lap in just 5:19.546 in June 2018 – that’s almost an entire minute faster than the previous record.
Under the skin is the same hybrid powertrain as the 919 Hybrid, but as it’s free of the restrictions of the racer, total power was rated at 1144bhp – especially mind-boggling when you consider its 849kg dry weight. This was achieved through the removal of unnecessary items such as air conditioning, windscreen wipers and headlights.
It’s aero was also tweaked, with the now-active system able to generate 53% more downforce than the 919 Le Mans-spec racer whilst also increasing aero efficiency by 66% – allowing for a peak speed of 229mph during its run.
> Porsche 919 Hybrid review – driving one of Stuttgart’s most successful racers
2. Volkswagen ID.R – 6:05.336 – 2019
Coming in second place is Volkswagen’s purpose-built, all-electric ID R. Despite the compromises of an all-electric powertrain on the circuit, VW’s engineers managed to extract enough performance for a 6:05.336 lap in June 2019, not just taking second spot, but also breaking the electric vehicle record.
It’s powered by the 670bhp motor and 44kWh battery pack from the brand’s Formula E racer, and hit an average speed of 128mph over the 12.9-mile course, with its aerodynamic setup fettled to suit the unique characteristics of the Nordschleife.
> Volkswagen ID R: everything you need to know
3. Porsche 956 – 6:11.13 – 1983
The outright record was long-held by the late Stefan Bellof for 35 years, until the aforementioned 919 came along in 2018. In May 1983, the then 25 year old racing driver set an astonishing time of 6:11.13 in a Porsche 956 during qualifying for the Nurburgring 1000km.
After this date, top-level Le Mans prototypes no longer used the 12.9-mile Nordschleife for competition, with the GP circuit also added as part of the lap – hence why the record around the Nordschleife stood for so long.
4. Porsche 956 – 6:16.85 – 1983
Proving just how committed drivers were in the golden age of endurance racing, not to mention what an incredible Nordschleife weapon the Porsche 956 is, it also takes the fourth spot on this list. On the same day as Bellof’s famous lap, German driver Jochen Mass achieved a time of 6:16.85.
5. March Engineering 832-BMW – 6:28.03 – 1983
Next on the list was another lap from 1983, with UK-based March Engineering bagging fifth place on the all-time list with its 832 Formula 2 car. Piloted by Christian Danner, the racer was powered by a 2-litre naturally-aspirated BMW four-cylinder, a unit that also saw action in Brabham’s famous BT52 Formula 1 car (albeit in 1.5-litre turbocharged-form).
6. Mercedes-AMG One – 6:35.183 – 2022
Mercedes-AMG has smashed the production car record with its One hypercar, the long-awaited road-going development of its Formula 1 car. Driven by DTM driver Maro Engel, the lap was completed in non-ideal conditions, suggesting there’s even more to come. Still, the AMG One ripped over eight seconds off the previous production car lap record holder, although it is worth remembering none of its hypercar rivals have attempted a lap record of their own.
Still, it’s a mighty achievement for AMG and for Maro, who didn’t only have to drive the One around at astonishing speed, but also manage its hybrid powertrain ensuring that it wasn’t out of battery before the final long straight.
> Mercedes-AMG One lap record
7. Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR – 6:43.30 – 2021
Manthey Racing broke its own record in 2021 with a further update on its MR kit designed specifically for the Porsche 991.2 911 GT2 RS that’s since been beaten by AMG. With various tweaks to its aero, suspension setup, braking system and cooling, Porsche development driver Lars Kern broke its previous record by nearly 5sec, in the process also breaking the fastest lap completed by a road-legal car. For reference, the 992-generation 911 GT3 RS achieved a 6:49.3, proving just how potent this package is…
It is worth noting that as with many recent record laps, this time is without T13, knocking 200m off the total lap length.
> 2022 Porsche 911 GT3 RS completes ‘Ring lap in 6:49.3
8. McLaren P1 XP1 LM Prototype – 6:43.22 – 2017
With almost 800bhp coming from its 4.0-litre V8 and a further 200bhp provided by electric motors, the Lanzante-fettled McLaren P1 LM managed an incredible lap time of 6:43.22 with Kenny Bräck at the wheel; around four second quicker than McLaren’s own quoted time for the track-only P1 GTR.
Given the P1 LM’s road-going racing car mantra, the P1 LM that set the lap time proceeded to drive home from the Nürburgring back to the UK on public roads. The time was run on road-legal Pirelli Trofeo tires, making best use of the LM’s weight-saving measures over even the standard P1 GTR. These included lightweight seats, titanium tailpipes and the removal of race parts like the air-jack system.
> McLaren P1 review – A worthy successor to the McLaren F1
9. Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series – 6:43.616 – 2020
The most recent addition to the list is Mercedes-AMG’s GT Black Series, with its 6:43.616 lap the eighth fastest of all-time, but also the fastest lap ever achieved by a road-legal production car. Piloted by GT3 driver Maro Engel, the Black Series was fitted with a set of road-legal Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tires developed specifically for the Black Series, and had its standard aero setup tweaked to suit the challenging conditions of the Nürburgring, knocking the Aventador SVJ off the top spot as the world’s fastest production car.
The GT Black Series features a complete overhaul over the ordinary GT. Not only does its 4-litre V8 now produce 720bhp and 590lb ft of torque, it’s the biggest transformation has been the fitment of a flat-plane crank, changing the V8’s characteristics. As you’d expect, a number of weight saving measures and chassis tweaks are also part of the package.
> New Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series to cost from £335,000
10. Lamborghini Aventador SVJ – 6:44.97 – 2018
Sitting just 1.3sec behind the AMG is Lamborghini’s Aventador SVJ, with the marque’s factory driver Marco Mapelli lapping the circuit at 6:44.97 in July 2018.
Powered with a 760bhp output from its 6.5-litre naturally-aspirated V12, the SVJ is more powerful than the limited-run Aventador SV, but also features an array of changes elsewhere that also contribute to its improved performance. Most notable is ALA 2.0, a revised version of the aerodynamics system first seen on the Huracan Performante, said to increase downforce by 40% over the SV.
> Mansory Cabrera turns Lamborghini Aventador SVJ up to 799bhp