Why did the Tesla Model S Plaid have two Nürburgring lap times?

Nurburgring Model S Plaid
Image via Nurburgring /YouTube

Last week Tesla CEO Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce a completely stock Model S Plaid had just set a new EV lap record at the Nürburgring.

The excitement of the moment might have gotten to him, as Musk shared a photo of a timesheet showing two different lap times, but did not say which one was the official record.

Naturally everyone’s reaction, including us at Drive Tesla, was to assume that the quicker time of 7:30.909 was the new record.

Less than 12 hours later we all got confused by the Nürburgring YouTube account. The social media account from the famous German racetrack uploaded an in-car video of the lap with the description saying the new record was actually the slower time – 7:35.579.

So which time was the new Nürburgring EV lap record? The answer is technically, both.

As it turns out there are actually two ways to measure a lap time at the Nürburgring.

Historically the German magazine Sport Auto measured lap times with separate start/finish lines. This resulted in part of the “T13 straightaway” being missed, equating to lap times being measured over a distance of 12.8 miles (20.6km).

T13 Nurburgring straightaway
Image via Bridge to Gantry

According to Road & Track, this changed in 2019 when a new procedure was implemented measuring lap times with the same start/finish line. The change meant lap times are now measured over the full 12.944 mile (20.91km) Nürburgring Nordschleife.

This naturally creates just a bit of confusion when trying to compare lap times before the change was implemented.

To get over this, most automakers publish two lap times – one based on the shorter, pre-2019 track, and a second for the new, longer track.

Now you might remember that the previous record was held by the Porsche Taycan. The Porsche EV set its lap time in 2019, before the new timing procedures were implemented.

That means the Model S Plaid did in fact beat the Taycan’s record by nearly 12 seconds.

You can watch the record lap from the Nürburgring YouTube account below.

About Darryn John 2948 Articles
Founder and Editor-in-chief of Drive Tesla Canada | Darryn@DriveTeslaCanada.ca Have a Tesla tip? Email tips@driveteslacanada.ca, or DM us on Twitter @DriveTeslaca