Future Infiniti IPL Performance Models to See Big Input from Red Bull Racing F1 Team
The outgoing Infiniti G37 IPL was never meant to be a direct challenger to heavy hitters like the BMW M3, just a warmer G, and it showed. (In fact, a source at Nissan once told us there was a relatively big “uh-oh” moment when the BMW 335is was announced.) With Infiniti now taking, well, everything seriously, that has to change. For help in making the next Infiniti Performance Line models competitive, the brand is turning to its new corporate partner—Red Bull Racing. Yes, that’s right—engineers and test drivers from the reigning world-champion F1 team.
Infiniti’s sponsorship of Red Bull Racing, then, is the $250-million gift that keeps on giving. Although plans for some engineering exchanges have been on the table since their relationship commenced in 2011, we’ve not heard much since then. Now that an initial period of awkward, “Do you like pizza? I like pizza” getting to know one another, has ended, senior execs on both sides say, the two organizations are really getting down to business. We’ll see the first, juiciest fruits of this collaboration on the upcoming Q50 IPL. We’re still not expecting a full-blown M3, but the result should be an extremely capable sports sedan.
To get a sense of what Red Bull can offer, one need only look at the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel edition. Far from a cynical marketing ploy to slap a driver’s name on a road car, Vettel himself took to track in a prototype version of the FX that was to bear his name. Speaking to the development team after his high-speed drive, Vettel was encouraged to be candid. Apparently, he was—and gave the folks from Infiniti a laundry list of improvements to be made. He returned months later and found that his suggestions had been incorporated.
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There may even come a time when we see some indication of Red Bull Racing as a badge on an IPL or other Infiniti road car, we’ve heard. But the people running both organizations are very clear that they’d rather see genuine engineering collaboration on the road cars than logo stickers. We agree, especially since most Americans just know Red Bull as caffeinated sugar water. Unfortunately, IPL has even less recognition than that. But with a crew of Formula 1 specialists now getting deeply involved, IPL could become a household name—in households that subscribe to Car and Driver, at least—very soon.