Red Bull Racing Extends Partnership With Infiniti, Becomes First Title Sponsor
F1 team Red Bull Racing has agreed to a four-year extension of its partnership with Japanese car brand Infiniti, which first began in March '11. The increased agreement will see Infiniti become title partner from '13, meaning the Red Bull Racing's team name will become Infiniti Red Bull Racing from the start of next season (F1). SPEED's Adam Cooper reported the extended deal, which runs through '16, "also includes technical cooperation in areas such as energy recovery." Red Bull Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey said, "Having a committed technical partner like Infiniti gives us a great platform for working together on technical projects, such as the Energy Recovery Systems for the 2014 season" (SPEED, 11/25). The SID reported the extension "will bring in an additional €15M ($19.5M) a year." Red Bull Motorsports consultant Helmut Marko said, "The budget will increase." Red Bull Racing "is already regarded as the team with the highest budget" (SID, 11/25).
TELL ME WHY? AUTOWEEK's Mike Pryson caught up with Switzerland-based Infiniti F1 Activities Global Dir Andreas Sigl, and Nashville-based Infiniti Marketing Dir for the Americas Keith St. Clair, to talk to them about Inifiniti's place in F1.
Q: Why Formula One?
Andreas Sigl: F1 has the same global footprint that we are looking at. It's as big as the Olympics as far as its reach, and it's every other week. If you look at what Red Bull does, they do promotions all over the world. F1 sounded good. And you want to be at the front of the grid.
Q: How does the relationship go beyond just writing a check?
Sigl: We have really opened our toolbox to the team and said, whatever you need, help yourself. They are an independent team. They don't have the Ferrari, the Mercedes, the McLaren resources. We've been able to contribute in many ways already -- new battery technology, KERS technology, a scratch shield paint.
Q: When you talked about going into Formula One, was it good fortune that you latched on with a championship team like Red Bull or was Red Bull your target all along?
Sigl: I think a little bit of both. We were convinced that we needed to be working with a top player. If for X amount of dollars, you can get this much [sticker] space on the 24th car in the field versus a top-three, then I think it's good to break in with a top team.
Q: Going forward, it sounds like Infiniti and Red Bull have a relationship that is prepared to go beyond its current contract, which is through 2013?
Keith St. Clair: Absolutely. We're not just there to say, "We've got our name on the car." Our organization, our active members with Red Bull, to bring this sport to market. The level of involvement continues to escalate. We have engineering resources in England with the team. They've have engineering resources of there's in Japan. The intellectual capital sharing continues to escalate. It's a partnership.
Q: It's clearly much, much more than just slapping a sticker on a car.
St. Clair: It has to be that way. It may have started out that way in the first three or four months of the relationship. Frankly, the deal originally was done to help our brand in Western Europe. ... What Formula One did was give our car brand a vehicle to gain immediate awareness and some sense of association of what we are and what we stand for. It made perfect sense. It worked out immensely well the first season, but you can't stay there. You have to continue to get truly involved with the products, the technology, the racing events, and that's exactly what we've done.