Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk has accepted Formula One champion Nico Rosberg’s offer to drive the infamous Nürburgring track in a Model S electric car – but it may not be for the reason originally believed.
Last Friday, Musk stated that Tesla would take the Model S to the motorsports mecca, at the time presumably in response to the launch of the Porsche Taycan electric sportscar which completed the gruelling 20.8km Nordschleife (“North Loop”) in a record-setting 7:42 seconds in August.
The statement by the Tesla CEO and founder set off a flurry of speculation as to whether or not the Model S is up to the challenge of beating the Porsche Taycan’s time, and if Tesla had even booked in a session on the infamous track.
Nevertheless, Rosberg – the former Formula One world champion and Formula E supporter – stepped up and offered to drive the Nürburgring on behalf of Tesla, which Musk politely accepted.
Thanks for offering! Sure, that would be great.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 7, 2019
Rosberg would indeed make a great match for the Model S – as co-founder of the Greentech Fest and staunch supporter of the ABB Formula E, as well as Formula One champion for 2016 and driver for both Williams and Mercedes throughout his driving career – he certainly fits the bill.
But under what capacity will Rosberg be driving should that come to pass?
Tesla has since confirmed that it has indeed booked into the Nürburgring Nordschleife, but not to time a lap.
Organisers at the track confirmed via email to Road and Track that: “Tesla is excited to be a part at the Industry Pool testing community next week at the Nürburgring. Our participation is confirmed and contracted by the Nürburgring.”
What this means is that Tesla has booked the Model S in for testing and development, as the Industry Pool is in essence a 16 week period co-booked by auto manufacturers to try out and tune new products to ensure optimum handling on the demanding track (and therefore on standard roads).
There are a few theories on why Tesla might put the Model S, which has been on the auto market since 2012, through the Industry Pool.
Some point out that because of overheating issues, the original Model S may not even have what it takes to beat the Taycan in a timed lap, as it would simply run out of puff.
But word is that this problem, which lies in the original motors, may have been at least partially resolved since Tesla swapped out the front motor with a reworked Model 3 motor, which does not have the same cooling problems (these newer Model S versions are known as “Raven”).
Another point worth noting is that Porsche added 800V architecture to the Taycan in order to ensure it could maintain high performance.
With Tesla’s acquisition of battery tech company Maxwell (which it is understood Musk acquired because of its work in ultracapacitors, which he had originally intended to study at Stanford) in May, could it be that the EV maker has made a breakthrough in battery it is itching to try out at the world-class track?
One thing is for sure, it appears there is already a Model S on the way to Nürburgring apparently complete with Michelin Sport Pilot Cup 2 R tyres – the very same that have been used on the Porsche GT2 RS and GT3 RS to set three records at the Nordschleife since 2017:
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@teslamotors Model S with Michelin Sport Pilot Cup 2 R installed, spotted on the German Autobahn heading to the Nürburgring-Nordschleife! This could be the car which will take part in Tesla’s attempt for the electric lap record of street legal cars. _______________________________________ [📸 Tim] *Werbung durch Marken-/Namensnennung möglich* #addicted2motorsport #tesla #teslamodels #nos #nordschleife #nring #greenhell #models #porschetaycan #taycan #spotted
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.