Obviously, that was the intention, but a little bit of clarification would have been in order. We’ve seen people misinterpret what the two times stood for, and others even get the speed values wrong (they thought they stood for “average speed” when a quick Google Translate from German for “schnitt” will tell you it means “cut”, suggesting it’s the equivalent of “trap speed”).
Luckily, people who basically live at the Nürburgring jumped in to offer a few clarifications about how the record run went and try to reduce the amount of misinformation currently doing the rounds on the Internet. That’s something Tesla should have done in the first place through its PR department, also known as Elon Musk’s Twitter account, but why make things clear when ambiguity stirs more discussion?
We’ll start with the one thing we feel is the most important, which is the distinction between the two times on that piece of paper. They each refer to a different track configuration: the 7:30.909 is for the 12.8-mile (20.6 km) old configuration that’s been in use for decades. However, starting with 1997, Nürburgring officials have made the full 12.94-mile (20.8 km) lap mandatory for any record attempts, but manufacturers kept using the other measure as well just so they could compare against older lap times evenly. You guessed it, the 7:35.579 time is the one corresponding to this extended lap and the one that really matters.
Well, it depends on how you want to look at it. If you want to compare it to the Porsche Taycan Turbo’s time, you’ll have to use the Plaid’s quicker lap time because that’s what the German manufacturer did for its EV. “Wait, didn’t you just say Nürburgring officials made the longer loop mandatory?” Yes, we did, and they have. That’s exactly why the Porsche Taycan Turbo Nürburgring lap time isn’t recognized by the Nürburgring itself. Time for Porsche to quit faffling around and bring the Turbo S out on the ‘Ring as quickly as possible. The people want to know.
The fact Porsche’s record never officially existed means that the Model S Plaid isn’t just the quickest production EV to lap the Nürburgring, but also the only one. Tesla’s sedan thus had the honor of inaugurating the new category, one that’s sure to be growing rapidly over the coming years as more and more quick EVs are released.
Some people could look at the in-cabin footage of the record lap and say the Model S Plaid isn’t exactly “directly from factory” as Elon Musk described it. Well, no, it’s not, but since the record has been made official, that means Tesla played by the rules. The only modifications you can see are there to make sure the driver (Swede Andreas Simonsen, by the way) doesn’t get killed in case the car flies off the track at 173 mph (279 kph), the maximum speed clocked by the Plaid.
There have also been a few pictures doing the rounds with a red Model S Plaid on the ‘Ring with a steering wheel instead of the infamous yoke. Well, the clip below contains a dialogue Misha Charoudin, the Nürburgring expert casting some light on the whole deal, had with Andreas Simonsen a few weeks before the run. Misha asked him about it, and you can just tell from his reaction he would have had it swapped with a regular steering wheel – like Randy Pobst did – in an instant if he wasn’t hired directly by Tesla, essentially making the yoke non-negotiable.
One of the most interesting observations Misha makes looking at the footage is how Andreas seems to lift off the throttle and just coast at times, presumably to prevent battery overheating. That suggests there is possibly potential for improving the time once the Plaid’s speed restriction is lifted (the EV is supposed to reach 200 mph, but Tesla has it software-limited at the time) and, more importantly, the company comes up with an even better battery thermal management.
Whatever the case, one thing is clear: we’ll be seeing a lot more EV action on the ‘Ring from now on. Whether it’s from Porsche, Rimac, or any of the other companies, the electrics will be coming to Germany. The Nürburgring administrators ought to start installing charging stations there ASAP.