Tesla is inching closer to its electric car lap record attempt at the Nurburgring, having been spotted doing several shakedown runs at the German circuit overnight.
What appears to be a modified Model S sedan – with wider wheel arches, wider wheels, carbon ceramic brakes, semi-slick racing tyres, a rear wing, and a new 100D+ badge – was caught on camera having only done five laps on Thursday.
During the lap sessions, which were witnessed by CarAdvice during the industry test day, the Tesla Model S completed only one or two fast laps followed by a cool-down lap in two sessions that were several hours apart.
The photos show experienced Nurburgring and Le Mans race driver Thomas Mutsch, from Germany, was behind the wheel during the test. Given his experience on the 20.8km circuit he is likely to be the driver used in the record attempt.
After offering his driving services via Twitter, former Formula One driver Nico Rosberg was asked by CarAdvice’s electric-car expert Paul Maric at Frankfurt motor show earlier in the week if he had been appointed for the Nurburgring record attempt. Rosberg’s response: “I’m still in discussions with Tesla, nothing has been confirmed yet”.
According to Nurburgring locals CarAdvice spoke to on Thursday, on condition of anonymity, Tesla has been planning an electric car record attempt since before Porsche announced the 7 minute 42 second lap time for the Taycan.
The same locals, whose businesses are attached to the Nurburgring circuit and the racing community, claimed Tesla would make the lap record attempt next week, having secured a one-hour slot on one of the test days.
However, it seems the development team is struggling to get the highly modified car up to speed. Tesla boss Elon Musk said via Twitter: "We probably won't try for best lap time this week as we need to review and tune Model S thoroughly for safety on Nurburgring, especially Flugplatz section".
Regardless of when the record attempt takes place, it is unclear whether the lap time will stand, even if it is faster than the Taycan, because the Tesla appears to be a highly modified version of the Model S and not a standard road car.
Modifications include carbon ceramic brakes, wider body work, wider wheels and a rear wing.
The car was photographed wearing special Goodyear Eagle F1 semi-slick racing tyres, a version of which is used on the limited edition Porsche 911 GT2 RS and GT3 RS road-going race cars.
It is possible the Model S caught on camera is an engineering vehicle for a yet-to-be-announced ultra high performance or limited edition model. The test vehicle wore a never-seen-before 100D+ badge on the boot.
Based on what CarAdvice saw, the Model S appeared slower than the Porsche Taycan development vehicle that was lapping the circuit the same day.
However, it’s likely the Tesla team was simply familiarising itself with the car. Unfortunately it was not possible to get a stopwatch on the Model S because its lap sessions were so intermittent.
In the meantime, it seems the emergence of electric cars won’t bring an end to Nurburgring lap record attempts, or using the famous German race track as a testing ground.
During the industry test day on Thursday other electric cars undergoing durability testing including the Volkswagen ID.3 hatch, Mercedes-Benz EQC SUV and Porsche Taycan. BMW was also testing a 3 Series hybrid wagon.