Nissan’s Infiniti is joining high-powered nameplates such as Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes and becomes title sponsor of a Formula One racing team. Under a four year contract, the highly successful Red Bull Racing team will change its name to Infiniti Red Bull Racing starting with the 2013 season.
Infiniti has been a co-sponsor of Red Bull Racing’s car RB8 since 2011, and Sebastian Vettel was a brand ambassador. However, Infiniti’s name was relegated to infinitesimally small stickers on the car. Now, Infiniti becomes one of the big names of Formula One, and it breathes the rarefied atmosphere vacated by global brands such as BMW, Toyota and Honda. The companies all bailed during carmageddon when splurging for sports was the wrong thing to do. Or, as The Paddock Magazine put it back then: “The last thing that most companies wanted to be seen doing last year was guzzling champagne at the expense of their shareholders.” Now, it slowly becomes socially acceptable again.
The champagne does not come cheap: Before Toyota left the sport, its Formula One budget stood at $445.6 million, Honda and BMW spent similar amounts before they pulled out. We don’t dare to ask the cost of becoming the title sponsor of a three times champion.