The reason manufacturers spend billions of dollars in F1 is mainly to sell cars, but also to develop future technology.
It was for this reason that F1 adopted the current controversial hybrid powertrains in 2014, in an effort to appease manufacturers and provide the road relevance missing with the previous high-revving naturally-aspirated V8s.
Renault was one of the biggest proponents of the new regulations and its premium partner Infiniti has now revealed it is undergoing a study to evaluate the possibility of using F1 technology to develop a hybrid halo car.
The base for the project is the Black S Concept revealed at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show, which promised an F1-style hybrid system boosting power from the standard Q60 Red Sport’s 298kW to 373kW while also being able to meet increasingly stringent emissions regulations.
Despite Infiniti Australia’s product planning manager, Bernard Michel, telling MOTOR in 2017 the project was “pretty advanced”, Infiniti’s Vice President of Global Product and Programs, Francois Bancon, reveals it is very much in the early stages.
“On the Black S my idea was: we have a partnership with Renault F1…how can we make a halo car based on this technology? I’m not telling you we’re going to produce it, but it’s a very, very traditional study – step-by-step we are validating the technology.
Comparison test: Q60 Red Sport v RC350 v 440i
“If it doesn’t work I want to understand why. The study we are doing is on the current Q60; if we would go to production there are (sic) going to be a very limited production.”
Asked if, as the premium brand of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance – now the world’s largest car maker – Infiniti would share its findings across the group, Bancon said: “If we have a reasonable level of validation, I have nothing against sharing this. We are going to keep the exclusivity for a while, but we should not be stupid – if it works, it works for everyone.”
The ability to amortise development costs across the group could be key for the production viability of the technology, as Infiniti’s size and sales volume makes it difficult to develop new technology solely for its own use profitably.
According to Bancon, a working concept will be driven by select media in 2019 to determine interest in the project.