Update: Reports indicate TAG Heuer and Renault will be the title sponsors of the TAG-Red Bull Racing effort in 2016.
This is pretty intense news wrapped in mature, civilized corporate speech. Infiniti and Red Bull have broken up their world-beating Formula One partnership -- effective immediately.
Who ended it?
That remains confidential, but it is safe to say both firms were unhappy to have their four-year winning streak so violently nabbed by Mercedes-AMG since 2013.
The original INFINITI sponsorship agreement was actually a huge marketing coup at the time. INFINITI was going global and spreading its wings far beyond its core US market, while Red Bull came out of obscurity to be the fastest and most-awarded new race team in F1 history. A partnership seemed natural to elevate Red Bull's budget into overdrive, while greatly benefiting INFINITI in brand awareness worldwide.
Alas, the good times make every step of a relationship easy. When bad times hit... that's when your partner might balk at your demands.
We have a hunch Red Bull wanted a big pay raise from INFINITI for the last year of the contract (2016) and INFINITI noted that Red Bull has lost its star drivers and race-winning cars. A slapfest from Hong Kong to Milton Keynes set the downfall into overdrive.
Red Bull has likely found a new automotive brand to sponsor it in 2016 -- helping smooth out its rebound and relaunch into the F1 dating pool.
INFINITI is much less likely to stay involved in the most expensive traveling circus on Earth -- its budgets are stretched tight with development of the Q60 Coupe for 2016, plus the Q30 and QX30 compact executive cars that just began production. Guesses on its new title sponsor? Possibly Audi, possibly Renault. Possibly a non-car tech company.
Read the terse breakup announcement below....
AUSTIN 2016 === 70/30 odds of race cancellation
In other F1 news, the 2016 USA GP race is tentative for the 2016 calendar, pending a new contract agreement. Bad weather for year two at COTA in Austin, plus near-zero second year marketing spend, means the crowd and media coverage of the 2015 race was down 99-percent versus the first-year event in 2014.
To the left, to the left. Swipe everything you own in a box to the left...
Yokohama/Hong Kong/Milton Keynes, UK – Nissan, Infiniti and the Red Bull Racing Formula One team have reached mutual agreements to discontinue the partnership between the two automotive brands and the Formula One team at the end of December this year.
In particular, the agreements entail the following two key components:
- Infiniti and Red Bull Racing will discontinue their commercial partnership at the end of the 2015 season, one year earlier than originally stipulated.
- Nissan will not provide light commercial vans to Red Bull Racing anymore.
The partnership between Infiniti, Nissan and Red Bull Racing has been one of the most successful ones in recent years. The team won four consecutive Formula One constructor and driver world championship titles between 2010 and 2013. Infiniti and Red Bull Racing started their commercial partnership in 2011 before Infiniti became the title sponsor of the team in 2013.
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. is headquartered in Hong Kong with sales operations in over 50 countries. The Infiniti brand was launched in 1989. Its range of premium automobiles is currently built in manufacturing facilities in Japan, the United States and China. Production in the UK has started in 2015, bringing with it significant expansion of the brand’s portfolio. Infiniti plans to also expand manufacturing into Mexico by 2017.