Infiniti, Red Bull announce expanded partnership for ’12

By Alan Baldwin ,Reuters

YEONGAM, South Korea — Nissan’s luxury Infiniti car brand will expand its partnership with Formula One champions Red Bull next year, both sides announced at the Korean Grand Prix on Sunday. The deal will feature more prominent branding on the Renault-powered cars as well as new areas of technical and product collaboration. Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer told reporters that brand awareness in the first year of the association with Red Bull, who won both titles last season and have again taken the drivers’ crown with Sebastian Vettel, had been “tremendously successful.” Germany’s Vettel has won nine of the 15 races up to South Korea while Red Bull had, until Saturday, racked up 16 pole positions in a row dating back to last year. “We use a system of measuring seconds of TV time … and by that measure we are the most visible car manufacturer on the grid,” said Palmer, who recognized that 24-year-old Vettel was about 11 years younger than the target customer. “It looks like Infiniti will have a record year for sales so there is obviously some correlation between one and the other.”

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the relationship with Infiniti — under the Renault-Nissan alliance — would make available more technology and know-how for future developments, particularly from 2014 when the engines change. “It opens avenues of technology that previously as an independent team wouldn’t have been available to us and that obviously would to the likes of Ferrari or Mercedes or even McLaren,” he said. Horner did not rule out the engine one day being “re-badged” from Renault to Infiniti. “Obviously in 2014, nothing is decided yet in terms of whether it will be a Renault or even an Infiniti engine,” he said. “But it is clear it will be a Renault-Nissan alliance engine. “It is something that obviously is under consideration.”