Infiniti Pull with Francois Bancon

By davidkhoo, 29 September 2014


David Khoo talks to Francois Bancon during the 2014 Singapore F1 to find out more about the pros-and-cons of Infiniti's F1 connection... no that's not us in the picture, but Francois is the gent in the spectacles

Singapore - Close association with F1, arguably the pinnacle of motorsports, tends to arise either because the car manufacturer has a sportscar programme, or intends to start one. After all, the rah-rah that accompanies the glitzy, high-octane spectacle of Formula One, the specific skill sets of all the parties involved and its black-hole budget for technical R&D are best channelled into creating the sort of pedigree provenance, which will lead to that halo effect that hopefully leads people to buy the road-cars.

The segments that Infiniti road-cars compete in are populated by niche-within-niches models from Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, and all of them have performance sub-brands that the regular cars can look up to, be is S/RS, M, AMG and F.

During the 2014 Singapore F1 Night Race, we had an opportunity to catch up with VP Infiniti Product Strategy, Mr. Francois Bancon, who told us a little more about what was to come for the brand, including hints of a sportscar range on the back of the storming GT-R-engined Q50 Eau Rouge concept.

Eau Rouge Meets Eau Rouge

"I'm personally convinced we need a car like that (the Eau Rouge)," Francois emphatically says. "We can do it, we should do it, but now we have to build some kind of a business plan to make it viable. If we made such a concept in the first place, it is because we feel it is important to the brand; the Eau Rouge symbolises what Infiniti will be able to deliver to the market."

As if reading our minds, he adds, "the Eau Rouge business plan is not just about whether or not we can make money, but we need a consistent line of pricing progression that is in keeping with the existing Infiniti portfolio." In other words, Infiniti can't just create an expensive supercar that is a large leap in price from the rest of its stable.

INF 675 14 F1Release2

Unfortunately, this might mean some form of compromise between the Eau Rouge's current one-off prototype status and a road model, if it ever makes it to volume production. "As a one-car prototype, we could push the limits of everything, but between what we can do and what will actually be made (in production), there might be a disconnect," Francois explains.

Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge 14

Infiniti's association with F1 isn't in name either, because there is a lot more to the science of the sport than just performance. "There's an extreme detail in F1; it's not just about the big technology, but the precision that goes into everything. And you can find this in every Infiniti, be it in terms of design, interior, fit and finish, in addition to the powertrain, chassis and suspension," he explains.

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