Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff recalls his huge high-speed crash at the Nordschleife, while he was attempting to break the lap record.
Back in 2009, Toto Wolff attempted to break the lap record on the dangerous Nürburgring Nordschleife track.
In a test lap, Wolff successfully broke the record for a GT car, but during his official attempt, he had a tyre puncture caused a massive crash.
While talking on BBC’s Desert Island Discs, Wolff explained how this attempt came about.
“It was said that only locals can be really fast there,” the Austrian said.
”And there were professionals who were very successful at an international level, who drove on the Nordschleife and were never able to get near the locals.
“So I said to myself, I’ll show them that I can beat the records. Niki [Lauda] had his bad accident there when he almost died in the flames.
“He said to me, ‘Don’t be so stupid. Nobody cares about the lap time on the Nordschleife. You could kill yourself’.”
If you like SilverArrows.Net, consider supporting us by buying us a coffee!
Toto went on to explain that he felt something was not right with the car, but decided to go forward with his attempt anyway.
“The car never felt stable, there was something, the tyres were just not good enough for this kind of downforce.
“And eventually, when I went for the run, I started the lap and I felt that something was wrong.
“This is where I realised you need to be a professional, I should’ve stopped the lap and driven back into the pits.”
Ultimately his car suffered a puncture while travelling at almost 190 mph and he impacted the barrier at a force of 27G.
“The car rolled several times at high speed. It didn’t end up in the forest, I always came back into the track.
“After 350 metres the car stopped. I was badly injured but instinctively, I unplugged myself from the radio and got out.
“They found me behind the rail with my helmet on, lying in the grass. I thought I was dead.”
In the end, Toto said the situation dissuaded him from continuing on with his competitive racing career.
“[I thought] if this ends in paralysis, this was really the most stupid idea of my life.
“And I remember being taken to the hospital and having an MRI, and then I said to a nurse: ‘Just let me know if everything is alright with my spine.’
“The doctor said: ‘You have some fractures, but your spinal cord is unaffected.’
“That was a horrible 15 minutes. And yes, that was the moment I said to myself: ‘Never again competitive racing.’,” Wolff concluded.
You can watch the onboard of Toto’s lap and subsequent crash here.