We probably won't really get a grip on the full results of his efforts for a while – we doubt that he's been in his post long enough to significantly alter the trajectory of the Q50 sedan, for instance. But then again, Infiniti insists he's been integral to the car's dynamics development regime, suggesting he's been working as a test driver for some time before these 100 days. Of course, Vettel is a race car driver and brand ambassador first and foremost, but when he tells a Q50 engineer that "For the future, I think it's more comfortable to have the shift paddles on the steering wheel," we get the sense that he won't hesitate to suggest changes in forthcoming products. Check out more of his inputs in the video below as well as a press release detailing his visit to the tech center in Cranfield, UK.
VETTEL DIRECTOR OF PERFORMANCE VIDEO NOW AVAILABLE
- Ahead of the British Grand Prix, Vettel and Infiniti Red Bull Racing engineer visit Infiniti's European Technology Center in the UK to discuss
future power train and hybrid technologies
- Vettel tests the world's fastest production hybrid vehicle on dyno and provides performance driving input
- Works with top Infiniti engineers to dissect 2014 Formula One Technical Regulations, and identify potential road car / race car technology transfer
CRANFIELD, UK (June 27, 2013) – Just days ahead of the 2013 British Grand Prix, Formula One Triple World Champion Sebastian Vettel continued his immersion into Infiniti's engineering development by visiting the company's European Technical Center (NTCE).
In his role as Infiniti Director of Performance, Vettel was joined by Infiniti Red Bull Racing Deputy Chief Designer Rob Gray to discuss the 2014 F1™ technical regulations with Infiniti's top engineers. Their key objective was to explore the future powertrain, hybrid technologies and energy recovery systems currently being developed at Infiniti's UK facility.
"With the technical challenges facing us for 2014, in particular the role that hybrid technology is set to play from a driving point of view, I was interested in hearing from Infiniti's powertrain engineers about the advances they are making in this area." said Vettel. "Key for me is to understand how we manage the smooth transition between the petrol and hybrid systems when I'm driving the car, and how we can get maximum precision and feel from energy recovery systems as they become more important to F1™ next year."
Vettel and Gray spent the day with the Technical Center's Vice President David Moss, Chief Marketability Engineer Jerry Hardcastle and Powertrain Manager Graeme Burn to discuss the future of power unit technology and how the technical collaboration between Infiniti and Infiniti Red Bull Racing can bring further benefits on the track and the road.
One example of this future technology was put to the test by the World Championship leader as he took the wheel of an Infiniti M35h – the world's fastest production hybrid - on one of the Center's Homologation Dynamometers, alongside a powertrain specialist.
"The laboratory test procedure gave Sebastian the opportunity to experience and evaluate areas like throttle response and regenerative braking power in an Infiniti road car", said Graeme Burn.
"Driving the Infiniti M35h on the dyno is very different to driving it on the road or track because you are able to concentrate completely on the vehicle's drivetrain performance through a rapid series of acceleration, deceleration and gearchange manoeuvres specifically designed to put the system to the test. Sebastian was understandably demanding on the car because he wants to be sure this technology delivers what he would expect from a premium performance sedan, as well as how it might feel under foot in a Formula One car."
Sebastian Vettel added: "Infiniti's engineers have successfully combined performance, efficiency and driveability in the Infiniti M35h to deliver a hybrid car that is amazingly quick and responsive. We want to bring this knowledge into the team as we develop the 2014 race car, and I also think that future Infiniti road car powertrains can benefit from the lessons we learn in Formula One."
Commenting on the technical collaboration, Infiniti Red Bull Racing's Rob Gray said: "We have been working closely with Infiniti's engineers and are already benefiting from this two-way sharing of technology expertise. As we head into 2014 with an increased focus on electric power unit technology and energy recovery, today's visit, complete with Sebastian's input, was a valuable insight into the power unit technology currently being worked on and there is plenty that both we and Infiniti can take from that."
Another central theme for discussion was the future direction hybrid electric technology could take in both road and racing cars. Also available for Vettel and Gray to inspect were the all-new Infiniti Q50 Hybrid launching later this year and the Cranfield-built high-performance Infiniti Emerg-e, a highly advanced EV sports car concept that combines all-electric drive with a range-extender powertrain to deliver 402bhp and a total range of 300miles.
In his role as Infiniti's Director of Performance, Vettel has already benchmarked competitor vehicles with Infiniti dynamics engineers at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, and met engineers at the company's North American Technical Center to discuss areas of vehicle performance including engine sound and ergonomics. He has also been central to the development of two vehicles in the Infiniti Q50 and Infiniti FX Vettel Edition.