The Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver spent the day evaluating the latest Infiniti road cars and their competitors, accompanied by experts from Infiniti’s European Dynamic Performance Team based at the company’s development centres in Bonn, Germany and Barcelona, Spain.
Luis Bravo, who leads Infiniti’s Customer Oriented Engineering and Vehicle Target Setting in Europe, says the goal is to align fully the engineers’ expectations of what makes a great car with those of Vettel. Their joint development work on future Infiniti road cars will see the 2013 championship leader taking an active role in product testing and providing driving and performance input at various points this year and beyond.
“Sebastian’s role as Director of Performance is significant in providing input to the team and we are very excited to be working closely with him,” said Bravo. “Today was a great opportunity to dive into what Sebastian Vettel wants and expects from a premium, performance road car since he has officially taken his new role (as Director of Performance). We’ll be able to take his critical evaluation into account as we develop the driving and performance attributes of Infiniti’s next generation Q cars.”
Bravo’s team of specialist engineers spent several hours with Vettel driving a number of the latest premium performance road cars over the legendary Paul Ricard circuit in France which now operates as a first class test facility.
The goal was for the engineers to hear directly from Vettel his views on important vehicle attributes like handling, steering feel and response, vehicle agility and ride comfort.
“As new Infiniti cars are created, it is really important for us to develop them with their own consistent driving style, so it has been really useful to be able to drive so many cars hard and back-to-back on the same track,” said Vettel. “Similar to Formula One cars, it’s interesting to feel how different cars are configured for steering response and braking as well as driver assistance features like ESP and Traction Control. Getting these things right is what makes a good car great.”
Sebastian Vettel was announced as Director of Performance for Infiniti at the 2013 New York International Auto Show in April.
This role extends and enhances Vettel’s relationship with the premium automotive brand which formally began in 2011. In this capacity, Vettel already has played a crucial role in developing Infiniti’s current vehicle line-up, starting with the exclusive Infiniti FX Vettel Edition and its latest model, the all-new Infiniti Q50.
Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen said: “The enhanced role Sebastian has taken on with Infiniti is another step in the integration of our Formula One program into the Infiniti product development process. His uncanny sensitivity to chassis set-up has made him very popular with our development engineers, who relish the opportunity to achieve great precision in suspension, braking and steering calibration. This is great news for Infiniti drivers who will directly benefit from the excellent vehicle dynamics.”
For the all-new Infiniti Q50, Vettel spent time with Infiniti engineers in Japan early in the development process to provide them with his world-class chassis dynamics, performance and handling feedback.
He was then involved in testing early models alongside Infiniti Red Bull Racing Test and Reserve driver Sebastien Buemi in Japan, around the famed Nürburgring in Germany, and at the Formula One pre-season test at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya last March.
This week’s testing session at Circuit Paul Ricard will directly influence future Infiniti models, including an exciting premium entry compact model, expected to be produced in Europe from 2015, allowing the company to compete in the heart of the premium segment for the first time.
• Infiniti reflects its brand promise "Inspired Performance" with a model line-up of saloons, coupés, SUVs and crossovers featuring exhilarating performance, emotive design and cutting edge technology. Infiniti continues to launch across the globe through a dedicated network of Infiniti Centres that share a commitment to exceptional hospitality throughout the entire period of ownership.
• Infiniti was launched in 1989 in the United States. Infiniti’s global footprint expanded into Canada in 1990, Taiwan in 1997, the Middle East in 2004, Korea in 2005 and Russia in 2006. Global expansion continued in 2007 with Infiniti Centres opening in the Ukraine and in one of the world’s fastest growing luxury automotive markets, China. In 2008 Infiniti launched in Western and Central Europe which has added 19 additional markets. Infiniti is sold globally in 47 markets to date.
• Since May 2012, Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.’s new global headquarters is situated in Hong Kong, headed by Johan de Nysschen as President of Infiniti.
• Since the 2011 season Infiniti has been a major partner of the Red Bull Racing Formula One team. The team will be known as Infiniti Red Bull Racing from the 2013 season as the relationship evolves to make Infiniti the title partner and lead technical partner with a shared engineering expertise that delivers benefits for the race track and the road. Earlier this year, three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel was appointed Infiniti’s Director of Performance.
General Manager Infiniti Global Communications Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.:
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Senior Manager Infiniti Global Communications
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd.
Mobile: +852 9447 9711