One of the core strengths of the Renault-Nissan Alliance is its capacity to create powerful industrial synergies in multiple areas such as R&D and production. From 2016 onwards, that approach will be mirrored in motorsport activities, with Alliance premium brand Infiniti joining Renault Sport F1 Team as an active technical partner.
Infiniti enjoyed five years of successful sponsorship with Red Bull Racing, which was initiated through the Alliance partnership with the Anglo-Austrian team. Infiniti dramatically increased its brand awareness over this period, but with all targets met, decided the time was right to take a step forward in the sport on a technical level.
Infiniti will use its expertise in hybrid technology and make a genuine contribution to the Renault Energy F1 Power Unit’s Energy Recovery System (ERS), which incorporates two motor generator units, the MGU-H and MGU-K, and a battery.
The MGU-K (K for kinetic) is connected to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine. Under braking, the MGU-K operates as a generator, recovering some of the kinetic energy dissipated during braking. It converts this into electricity for a boost equivalent to 120 kW or 160bhp that can be deployed throughout the lap.
Acting as a generator, the MGU-H (H for heat) absorbs power from the turbine shaft to convert heat energy from the exhaust gases. The electrical energy can be either directed to the MGU-K or to the battery for storage for later use.
The hybrid system will be re-baptised as the Infiniti E-Boost (*) system, with the Infiniti brand also exposed on the car and team gear.
Infiniti has achieved an excellent level of R&D for hybrid and electric vehicles, with the hybrid system used in two models, the Q50 and Q70, recognised as the most powerful hybrid system on the market today. This strong and valuable expertise will be put to good use by the team in Viry-Châtillon as five Infiniti hybrid specialists move from Japan to France in 2016, with greater numbers joining in subsequent years.
The partnership is based on a solid five year plan. Production car engineers will collaborate with F1 specialists, thus enabling the benefits to cross pollinate to Infiniti’s road car portfolio. From next year, the hybrid system on the Infiniti range will also be named E-Boost (*) to emphasise the solid links from track to road.
In parallel, Infiniti markets will continue to have access to Formula 1 for marketing activities to communicate the new brand position "Empowering the Driver."
Tommaso Volpe, Infiniti Motorsport Global Director, commented: "During our five years of sponsorship with Red Bull Racing, we achieved all our targets in terms of brand awareness. As an automotive company, the next logical step is to become an active player within Formula 1. The creation of the Renault Sport Formula One Team with our Alliance partner Renault gives us an ideal opportunity to make this natural evolution from sponsor to technical partner."
Infiniti will have a direct input to the Energy Recovery System in the Renault Sport Formula One Team. Our know-how will benefit the team on track, but we will also learn a great deal in the extreme environment of F1 that we will be able to transfer back to our road car portfolio.
"The news has already been greeted with enormous enthusiasm within the company, which is critical in supporting our core business."