The Renault-owned Japanese carmaker Infiniti has confirmed it will enter Formula 1 as a major sponsor of the Red Bull Racing outfit, but its involvement will not extend to a rebranding of the team’s customer Renault engines, as was widely speculated by many in the F1 media circle, including this very website.
Infiniti is the luxury arm of Nissan, and its new sponsorship deal will see its brand awareness expanded worldwide in a bid to boost its sales – it already enjoys a strong reputation in its Japanese homeland, as well as the Middle East.
The initial two-year deal will act as a launching pad to a greater technical collaboration between it and Red Bull Racing, and its logos will assume a greater presence on team clothing and prominent areas of the RB7 chassis, including its nose and rear wing.
Its parent company, Renault, will continue to have its own branding involvement on the car as well, which makes sense given its customer engines helped power the team to its first Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Championship crowns in 2010. The Renault stickers will be visible on the drivers’ helmet visors and the engine cover of the RB7.
In turn, Red Bull Racing believes that this new collaboration with Infiniti will give it a greater opportunity to match its manufacturer-backed rivals in terms of possible technological developments over the next few years.
“As the team has evolved, it is important for us strategically, as we look to the future, to make sure we are aligned with the right partners – whether they are from a marketing perspective or elsewhere,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner.
“But particularly from a Red Bull perspective, it is the technological challenges that F1 presents. As an independent team we are not battery specialists, and we are not KERS specialists. We want to focus on designing and producing F1 chassis, and if we can tap into the type of resource that Nissan and Infiniti have, that is very exciting for us,” he added.
And with Nissan being one of the market leaders in battery-powered cars, Infiniti looks poised as a huge ally in being able to develop technology to support the ramp-up of KERS use over the next few years.
“There are all sorts of things where there is potential to work together," said Infiniti Vice President Andy Palmer. "We are a car company, so in consequence we have a lot of power in terms of analytical type of work.”
And when asked why the decision to rebrand the engine under Infiniti’s name was not pursued, Palmer replied: “Infiniti is all about being genuine – so rebranding an engine would not have been genuine.”