So then we asked, "Well, what does that mean?"

We met Andreas Sigl, the global director of Infiniti's Formula One involvement (that's him above on the right), at the US Grand Prix in Austin last year, and our questions to him were aimed at understanding what Infiniti was doing and where it intended to go. In spite of regard for its products and increased sales, few outside – and even inside – Infiniti seemed to have a clear idea of what the brand stood for.

Its F1 partnership with Red Bull Racing was a key example of that. A brand with no motorsports pedigree – save for a listless dalliance with Indycar and the Infiniti Pro Series – was suddenly married to the world's marquee racing series, but one being continually declined by other brands and even its own entrants for a lack of relevance to road cars. The introduction of the Infiniti FX Vettel Edition didn't clarify matters; we still didn't understand how Infiniti logos on Adrian Newey's chassis' made the G, M, FX, et al any better – or who was even supposed to make the connection – and if we were exceedingly cynical we could have said the terrifically expensive Sebastian Vettel-fettled FX mutant was a marketing mission that needed a hand grenade but instead got a high-impulse thermobaric weapon.

Seven months after that Austin Q&A with Sigl, during which time Infiniti has become title sponsor of Red Bull Racing and publicly anointed Sebastian Vettel its Director of Performance, we met Sigl again in Montreal during the Canadian F1 Grand Prix. It was there we got an answer to what Infiniti stands for: "We've boiled the brand down to the four 'p's," he said. "Performance, passion, precision and provocation."

So then we asked, "Well, what does that mean?", and Sigl gave us some background on what's been happening behind the scenes of the partnership.
  • We're looking at somewhere between 2025 and 2038 for an Infiniti brand that fulfills de Nysschen's personal mission.

    First, let's have a reminder of the timeframe for Infiniti's project. Last year Sigl said "I think it will take a long time – in terms of product alone, five to ten years, then you've got architecture and point-of-sale [i.e., the Infiniti Centers replacing old dealership facilities]." This year Infiniti CEO Johan de Nysschen mentioned the 25 years it took Audi to regain its footing in the US after the unintended acceleration issues from the '80s. That means that even though the first shot will be fired this year with the Q50, we're looking at somewhere between 2025 and 2038 for an Infiniti brand that fulfills de Nysschen's personal mission of being "accepted into the club of global luxury car brands."
  • "This isn't 'Win on Sunday...' This is 'Let people know we're here.'"

    "Global" is a key word to the project. Infiniti is active in more than 50 countries, almost all of which care more about F1 than the US does. On its partnership with Red Bull Racing, Sigl said making a blatant connection between the technology transfer from Formula One to Infiniti road cars wasn't the point. "Our goal is different; we want global awareness for the brand, we want to reach hundreds of millions of viewers every other weekend." This isn't, "Win on Sunday..." This is, "Let people know we're here."
  • You can think of Vettel as Infiniti's personal 'Ring.

    When Sigl said in Austin that Infiniti was going "longer and deeper" with the F1 tie-up, that's what the four-year term of the title sponsorship allows them to do. "You can start projects that you can follow through to the finish," he said, and that means getting Vettel further integrated into the development of its cars. Remember when it was news that a manufacturer was testing a car on Nürburgring? You can think of Vettel as Infiniti's personal 'Ring – a marquee way to both develop and add more perceived value to a car. Sigl said they wanted to use Vettel three ways, the first being as an individual who can inspire and reward employees and dealers.
  • "We exposed him [Vettel] to the way we develop a car,"

    The second way is "to bring him further upstream for all products." Vettel was at the Circuit Paul Ricard after the Monaco Grand Prix reportedly testing a production version of the Etherea, but Sigl explained that Vettel drove a range of cars and the test was about getting Vettel into the mindset of developing to a specific customer. "We exposed him to the way we develop a car," Sigl said. "We had him drive our cars and competitor cars and then gave him a buyer profile, like a person named Pascal, she's 34, she lives in London, she wants an agile car and this is the car she drives now." Directly after the Canadian Grand Prix Vettel went to Infiniti's North American Technical Center in Farmington Hills, MI to do more study on the processes by which a carmaker gets a product on the road.
  • Vettel will help fill in the steps from the (purported) Q30 all the way to a Q100.

    Infiniti plans to use Vettel from bottom to top. "He can help us develop Infiniti's entry car or Infiniti's super sports car," said Sigl. And at the top is the third way the brand plans to employ him. The production version of the Etherea has been rumored to sit on the platform of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, will be called the Q30 and be Infiniti's entry-level car. On the side of Vettel's RB9 race car is written the alphanumeric "Q100," which Sigl said represented the company's super sports car, and Vettel is the one who will help fill in the steps from the (purported) Q30 all the way to a Q100.
  • In two instances you might be able to point to the RB9 and say "This is from Infiniti."

    It goes the other way, too. We were told before that Red Bull is studying and using Nissan's Scratch Shield paint because it can improve the aerodynamic properties of the race car. In Montreal Sigl told us that the race team is studying the magnesium compound that Infiniti uses for its paddle shifters for use as paddles on the RB9 steering wheel, which are currently a titanium alloy. In Austin Sigl told us, "You can't point to a button on [an Infiniti] and say 'This is from F1,'" but in two instances you might be able to point to the RB9 and say, "This is from Infiniti." As for more crossover on the way, we were told during our tour of the Infiniti Red Bull paddock "You might not see much happen this year, but next year there'll be more."
  • Infiniti has many more important things to do before it begins the task of starting a halo division.

    In Austin, Sigl had said that Infiniti wants something in the space occupied by the M division at BMW and AMG at Mercedes. Asked if that had come any further, he suggested that it would come but there would be much more to it than simply conjuring a name. "We need a performance brand, a halo car to bring people in," he said, "but we are just 25 years old in the US, only two to five years old in other markets. The other carmakers, they're more than 100 years old and their performance brands are as old as we are." The subtext was that Infiniti has many more important things to do right now, like get the company moving in the right direction, before it begins the task of starting a halo division. In the meantime, rumored models like the more powerful versions of the Q50/Q60 and the "charged induction" performance sedan with more than 550 horsepower that de Nysschen mentioned in his Facebook note can begin building the bridge to that halo division.
  • "The German brands are a bit clinical, cold. We want to be the seductive alternative."

    Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn told CAR that he wanted Infiniti to have 10 percent of the luxury market, or about 700,000 sales per year. No timeframe was given, but coming off of 165,000 sales last year, that means Infiniti needs to start meaning something to buyers – its products need to be life aspirations, not just neat cars to own. That requires differentiation from its competitors, and the word we were given in Austin was omotenashi, the concept of intense Japanese hospitality that would define every interaction one has with the brand. Asked about that again, Sigl's update was that "The German brands are a bit clinical, cold. We want to be the seductive alternative, a provocation." When we said that had an Italian ring to it, Sigl said "Yes, we're more dialing that way."
A few last notes from the weekend:
  • In a good week, Adrian Newey will make 100 drawings, by hand, of a new part for the car. The drawing is then digitized and CAD/CFD tested. If it makes the cut, it is produced in the parts factory and taken to the wind tunnel – the team uses the same tunnel that was used to test the Concorde.
  • The parts factory works 24 hours a day, six days a week.
  • Remember when the team's pit crew broke the record for pit stops five times in the Malaysian Grand Prix, resetting the record at 2.05 seconds? We were told that the pit crew's focus on fitness was increased this year with the hiring of an ex-British marine to be the human performance engineer for mechanics.
  • We spoke to Antonio Felix Da Costa, the team's second reserve driver (after Sebastian Buemi), and he told us that the biggest effect the driver can have on the drivability of the car is with the differential setting on the steering wheel.
  • Also on the wheel is a knob to let the team know about tire wear so that other teams don't know, one being the least wear and five being the worst.
  • We've read before that F1 cars are notoriously difficult to drive. Da Costa said to the assembled journos there, "Any one of you could probably drive an F1 car right now. The problem would be driving it fast."
  • We see tire warmers all the time, but da Costa said that everything on the wheel corner gets heated: hot air is blown on the brakes, hub, rum, tires and brakes. He said the carbon brakes are especially touchy, in that you have to hit them hard to get them up to temperature – if you use the pedal lightly then they'll glaze over and then "you don't have great brakes for the rest of the race. If they glaze, you need new brakes.
  • Speaking of tires, we were also informed during the paddock tour that the optimal temperature for the tires is 100 degrees Celsius. The tire warmers only get them close to that temperature, though - the ambient heat of the brakes, which can get up to 800 degrees C, does the rest.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 41 Comments
      jf.bouchard
      • 1 Year Ago
      A missed opportunity. It should have been: Qerformance, Qassion, Qrecision, Qrovocation
        Henry
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jf.bouchard
        Yep, I can understand the tongue in cheek play here. I am flabbergasted too.
      Armon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Still not as dumb as naming their entire vehicle lineup the same thing.
      over9000
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can't believe they wasted the heritage they've build for the G, M, FX, and EX and instead wanted a global mass produced entities like Benz and BMW. I always thought Infiniti cars are smart alternatives to German brands.
      chicagokevo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm convinced most of these idiots commenting on this board know nothing about Infiniti. I'm a new Infiniti owner & it's absolutely one of the best luxury vehicles I have ever purchased--bar none. High quality materials & extremely reliable. Outstanding customer service. High residual value. I understand it's not the most well-known brand, but once you actually experience driving an Infiniti, you become a loyalist.
      The Wasp
      • 1 Year Ago
      Whoever at Infiniti that thought this "4 Ps" crap was okay should not work there anymore. If anyone hears that and thinks "oh, I should buy an Infiniti because of the '4 Ps'", that person should not be considered mentally sound enough to buy a car, let alone drive it.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      PUTRESCENCE! And that's what it is, the Car of Refuse. So bow down to it if you want, bow to it. Bow to the Car of Slime, the Car of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence! BOO. BOO. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. BOO. BOO. BOOOOO!
      johnnythemoney
      • 1 Year Ago
      Do they really expect this to be useful to them? Vettel as an ambassador is a poor idea to begin with, it probably RB to get more exposition than Infiniti itself. The naming revolution is just madness, performed by an employee of some competitor working at Infiniti under cover. And this 4P thing is just lame. Everything was fine, and the IPL line was there to be developed (odd name, still way better than Piss Poor Product Planning). But no, you wanted to be sure biting you're own tongue did indeed hurt, you couldn't trust common sense... Then again Infiniti has little room to go sportier if Nissan keeps paying more attention to Nismo than anything else. And I like Nismo.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @johnnythemoney
        you do not read much, do you? Infiniti already admit that the IPL was very lame, and that is why they went all out with the Q 50, the hybrid setup is very fast, and it should be much faster than the M35h, simple because it is lighter and more areodynamic . The 3.7 non hybrid also shade some weight and it is lighter than the lexus IS350. Any IPL coming will be a really true performer.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @chanonissan
          Q50 IPL model could feature a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with north of 500 horsepower. Read more at http://www.leftlanenews.com/infiniti-announces-pre-launch-pricing-for-new-q50-sedan.html#J6fJcWIhJ9uuV2ev.99
      kevsflanagan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wait... P I thought they wanted people to focus on Q? Man what the hell.... -confused hehe-
      bgruia
      • 1 Year Ago
      They need to get a likeable driver. Thus far, Vettel makes me think of a bratty teenager while Webber resembles a passive-aggressive old man.
      leo
      • 1 Year Ago
      they have the GT-R that can take it to many supercars... simple - take that powertrain, detune it and you still have a Q50/60 IPL that can easily compete with the M3 copy it over into the M and bang a M5 beater... i hope 2025 is not when we get a real m3 and M5 competitor from them, i have my hopes high
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @leo
        A turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine sourced from Renault-Nissan partner Daimler will join the lineup with two years, and a rumored Q50 IPL model could feature a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with north of 500 horsepower. Read more at http://www.leftlanenews.com/infiniti-announces-pre-launch-pricing-for-new-q50-sedan.html#J6fJcWIhJ9uuV2ev.99
      Dmitry Badalyan
      • 1 Year Ago
      anyway i believe Infiniti brand will go to history books soon
      SloopJohnB
      • 1 Year Ago
      Infiniti HAD a great sedan in the 90-91 Q45 cars...stealth bombers good for 160mph all day long. Since then, meh.
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