The Nürburgring Nordschleife is notorious for being one of the world’s longest, most difficult race tracks. Three-time Formula 1 World Champion Jackie Stewart labeled the track as the “Green Hell.” While many car manufacturers cut their teeth at the Nordschleife to achieve record lap times with their vehicles, Mini wants to achieve a different sort of record.
Mini are looking to navigate the perilous 73 turns of the 20.8-kilometer (13-mile) race track without touching the brakes. This record isn’t as death-defying as it sounds though. The vehicle they aim to achieve the record with the new all-electric Mini Cooper SE, which features an innovative regenerative braking system. In short, it’s a two-mode system that allows the driver to adjust how much deceleration is accomplished when lifting off the gas pedal.
The standard regenerative braking setting is good enough to provide .19 g of deceleration, while the soft recuperation setting provides .11 g. That might not sound like a lot of braking force, but Mini says “the level of brake energy regeneration and hence also the deceleration can be harmonized with the driving style and to suit the track profile.” Drivers may use more regenerative braking for corners like the Karussell, and less for more flowing sections like Flugplatz.
Aside from managing performance with the various levels of recuperation under braking, efficient use of the Mini’s electrical power is also important. As such, the green + mode available on the SE shuts down the heated seats and air conditioning to further save energy – energy that will be invaluable on long sections of the track like Döttinger Höhe.
We’d love to see other manufacturers get on board the “brakeless lap” hype-train, though for safety’s sake, an empty track would probably be best.