The brand has enjoyed the success of trickle-down tech, but now it's time for bigger things.
Infiniti is hardly the first brand you think of when it comes to motorsport, but the Japanese luxury carmaker actually has a fairly strong relationship with racing, sending a QX80 to the Rebelle Rally this year and boasting involvement in Formula 1 for the last decade with affiliation to the Red Bull Racing and Renault F1 teams. The association has even led to some pretty crazy concepts, including the vintage-style Infiniti Prototype 9 Concept based on a 1940s Grand Prix racer with an electric twist. But after ten years of involvement in the pinnacle of motorsport, Infiniti is withdrawing to focus on its road car portfolio, with one key area in mind: electrification.
The brand's involvement in Formula 1 has previously helped its hybrid endeavors, inspiring hybrid technology like the 563-horsepower hybrid powertrain in the Q60 Project Black S concept that was under strong consideration to be put into production. This concept utilized an Energy Recovery System inspired by the F1 KERS electrification systems and was part of a five-year technical coalition with Renault F1. Concept designs were also influenced by the modern F1 era, with the SYNAPTIQ concept bearing a strong resemblance to the modern F1 car.
The platform has been a strong one for the brand, with 459 championship points achieved with Renault F1. More than this, the partnership enabled the foundation of the Infiniti Engineering Academy, which selected 33 of the best and brightest applicants, 50% of whom ended up with Infiniti or in motorsport full time after their studies.
"We are enormously proud of our participation in Formula 1 and the successes and milestones we've achieved," said Tommaso Volpe, Nissan and Infiniti global motorsports director. "Our involvement in the sport has gone from strength to strength during these past 10 years, and we have not only increased our brand awareness but also strengthened our technical credentials and capabilities. Now it is the right time for us to concentrate our resources and all the knowledge gained through our Formula 1 activities in the research and development of our new technologies and future powertrains."
The next step for Infiniti is to now focus on key markets where the brand is most active, including the US, and to bolster its product lineup with a strong number of electrified variants. These will likely be production versions of various concepts, including the Qs Inspiration Concept from last year.