News

Tesla Nurburgring record attempt: everything we know so far

Playing catch-up? Here is everything you need to know about Tesla’s busy week in Germany.
- shares

After a week of hype, Tesla is yet to put down a fast lap at the Nurburgring in its attempt to wrestle the electric-car lap record from the Porsche Taycan.

If you haven’t been able to read every word on the internet about this bold record attempt, this story will give you a rundown on all we know so far.

After talking to well-placed sources at the Nurburgring on Thursday, CarAdvice established Tesla has in fact been planning a record attempt since before the Porsche Taycan did its 7 minute and 42 second time.

When the first photos in Germany appeared mid week, it looked like Tesla might have been planning a bit of a fudge, building a car with carbon-ceramic brakes, wider wheels, semi slick tyres, fender flares to accommodate a wider footprint, and a rear wing.

But it now appears Tesla is preparing a special edition Model S with a level of performance that goes beyond 'Ludicrous' mode.

A discreet plus symbol after the 100D badge was the first clue. The other less subtle clue eventually came from Tesla boss Elon Musk himself when he described the model being tested as having a 'Plaid' mode.

Rather than describing a woven shirt, as the dictionary says, the 'Plaid' Musk is referring to is a reference to the movie Spaceballs. Rather than travelling at warp speed, they travel so fast they go “plaid” – because the world goes blurry.

“The only thing beyond Ludicrous is Plaid,” Tesla founder and boss Elon Musk tweeted overnight, confirming the powertrain will have three motors.

“Plaid powertrain is about a year away from production & applies to S, X & Roadster, but not 3 or Y. Will cost more than our current offerings, but less than competitors,” he added.

Musk also confirmed the Tesla Model S at the Nurburgring is a seven-seater, meaning that even if it fails to beat the Porsche Taycan’s lap time there’s every chance Tesla might be able to claim the title of world’s fastest seven-seater.

If that happens, expect the internet to explode because clearly that’s not as impressive as beating Porsche and not much of a consolation prize. In fact, if this story from Jalopnik is a guide, we’re heading that way in any case.

As Tesla is finding out, it’s not that easy to set a lap record at one of the most perilous race tracks in the world – all 20.8km of it.

Which is why it’s highly unlikely former Formula One driver Nico Rosberg will take the wheel during the record attempt, despite offering his services via Twitter and Musk appearing to accept the offer.

First of all, Rosberg is not qualified to drive on the Nurburgring during automotive industry track test days. And, as our photos revealed on Friday, Tesla appears to have already employed the services of a more qualified driver, Germany’s Thomas Mutsch, an experienced Nurburgring and Le Mans racer.

For further evidence of Mutch’s credentials, take a look at him getting some serious air at this year’s Nurburgring 24-Hour here.

Nurburgring locals who CarAdvice spoke to in Germany on Thursday said the record attempt could happen as early at next week, with Tesla apparently having secured a one-hour slot during one of the automotive test days.

In the meantime, stay tuned to CarAdvice and we’ll be sure to keep you updated as events unfold.

Our spy photographers are on their game and they understand the massive interest in Tesla’s Nurburgring campaign.

They even sent images to us while the Tesla was still on the track on Thursday. So we’ll be sure to check our emails a little more often – even in the middle of the night – as long as the Tesla team is at the Nurburgring.