Vettel gets busy as Infiniti’s Director of Performance

Posted on May 30, 2013 by
Vettel spent a day testing Inifiniti and competitor products at Circuit Paul Ricard

Vettel spent a day testing Inifiniti and competitor products at Circuit Paul Ricard

There is a long history of carmakers using champion drivers to help develop performance variants of their road cars or out-and-out sport cars. Think Stewart and Ford, Senna and Honda, Schumacher and Ferrari. But that relationship appears to have been taken to another level with Sebastian Vettel’s role as Director of Performance for .

Less than 24 hours after claiming second place at the Monaco Grand Prix, the triple world champion was back on track at the famous Circuit Paul Ricard evaluating the latest Infiniti road cars and their competitors, accompanied by experts from Infiniti’s European Dynamic Performance Team.

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.

The triple world champion is said to have an "uncanny" ability to judge a car's chassis.

The triple world champion is said to have an “uncanny” ability to judge a car’s chassis.

“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.”

Vettel's role is far more than just endorsement, he is working closely with Infiniti engineers to optimise driving performance.

Vettel’s role is far more than just endorsement, he is working closely with Infiniti engineers to optimise driving performance.

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.”

 

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