After months of speculation, Red Bull Racing has confirmed its split from longstanding commercial partner Infiniti. While Renault will continue to supply engines for the team, the Formula One outfit has confirmed that it will no longer carry any branding from Renault-Nissan. Instead, its engines will bear the name of Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer.
Team principal Christian Horner spoke positively about its partnership with Infiniti, stating that the car brand had “enjoyed greater visibility than any other manufacturer in sport” during their time together. Behind the scenes however, the story behind the split was a complicated one, with plenty of twists and turns along the way.
For those pursuing auto mechanic careers, it serves as an interesting illustration of how mechanics and business can sometimes clash at the very highest level of the industry.
Re-Energizing F1: A History of Red Bull Racing for Mechanic Colleges Students
Red Bull Racing is just eleven years old, and was formed after the energy drink company purchased the Jaguar team in 2004. After initially struggling to make an impact, the team eventually became F1’s most dominant force, winning four consecutive constructor’s championships from 2010 to 2013, as well as four driver’s championships for Sebastian Vettel.
Students enrolled in mechanic colleges likely know that the team’s most successful years came after a switch in engines, with its fortunes improving after dropping Ferrari for Renault in 2007. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Infiniti split coincides with two seasons of poor results.
The Mechanics of Marketing: The Story Behind the Red Bull-Infiniti Split
Big-money sponsorship is huge part of motorsport, and naturally Red Bull—famous for its elaborate marketing exploits—is particularly active when it comes to branding. In 2012, Renault agreed to pay more than double what it was receiving for supplying Red Bull’s engines in order to have the energy drink company carry the name of luxury car brand Infiniti.
Any professional in an automotive career is used to customers shopping around for the best bargain, and with the team struggling, Red Bull began doing just that, entering talks with Mercedes , Honda, and Ferrari. Ultimately, it ended up renegotiating its deal with Renault, who will continue to power the RB12 at least into next season, but all Renault-Nissan branding will disappear from the car.
What F1 Fans Pursuing an Automotive Career Can Expect for Red Bull’s Future
It’s unlikely that any automotive service writer will ever order a TAG Heuer branded engine when organizing a repair job, but that’s what the RB12 will have next season. The watch company will also become the team’s official timekeeper, with the deal helping to compensate for the lost revenue from Infiniti.
Ironically, Renault will use the money saved to invest in its engine development program, which could actually help Red Bull, who has expressed hope that Renault’s partnership with Ilmor Engineering will help turn things around for the team.
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