Ricciardo recalls driving - and nearly crashing - at the Nordschleife in a Fiat Punto

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Daniel Ricciardo is one of a number of Formula One drivers with fond memories of driving the Nurburgring's Nordschleife.

The Nurburgring's F1 configuration hosts this weekend's Eifel Grand Prix, its first race in the series since 2013. But the venue is most famous for the 154-turn, 20.81 km (12.93 mi) Nordschleife configuration which runs on the outside, which was an F1 track until Niki Lauda's infamous crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix.

The Norschleife is still a race venue and is open to the public. Ricciardo is one driver with a story of the famous old circuit, stretching back to 2008 - three years before he made his Formula One debut with HRT.

"I drove it in my own car at the time, which was a Fiat Punto, and believe it or not I still went off the track in the Fiat," he said. "There was one part of the track I remember it was a little bit blind left uphill, in the corner really tightened.

"I was not prepared so I understeered off and went over the curb and cut across the grass. Fortunately I stayed out of the barriers, but that was my last experience."

Ricciardo hoped to get back out on the Nordschleife in some capacity on Thursday afternoon.

"We are going to try to get on the track this afternoon. I think Renault were able to get the track for a little bit of time and I will go back and go slower this time. I look forward to it because it is an amazing track. I know now to race F1 there is slightly unrealistic, but just to drive anything around there.

"It is narrow, it is old-school, you have different types of tarmac throughout the track. Patches where they have resurfaced, and the carrousel is pretty iconic. I know the weather is not great right now but I look forward to trying to get out there later."

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel is another who has taken a road car around the circuit.

"The very first time, I was 17 years old and I took my road car around the track, around the Nordschleife," the four-time world champion said. "I had a scary moment after the Schwedenkreuz. I had brake fading and nearly crashed because I was treating the car like a sports car, which it was, but not made for the Nordschleife.

"It's a very very enjoyable track. I think it will be fantastic if we were to race on the Nordschleife. Obviously, the track would need a resurfacing and a bit more smooth but that would be the ultimate challenge. I think it's the best track in the world. I followed the 24h race two weeks ago as well so generally a very big fan of the Nordschleife."

McLaren's Carlos Sainz said he completed three laps of the old circuit in an Audi A6 on Wednesday.

When asked what his lap time was, the Spaniard laughed and said: "That's a secret that I will never tell! But it was a rental... I shouldn't say it, now I might get in trouble.

"It was good fun. I do it always. My dad used to race here in the 24 Hours, so he knows the track very well, so I remember coming back when I was racing here in 2014 in World Series by Renault and I remember him teaching me the corners and where it went. Every time I come to the Nurburgring I have to go on the Nordschleife, it's a must."