Infiti-Red Bull Racing were friendly enough to have our own Keith Morgan out to Spa for this year’s 2014 Belgian Grand Prix, where he sipped and snacked with Europe’s highest class and sat down with four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.
He also took a tour of the Infiniti-Red Bull factory in Milton Keynes, England – a top-secret palace worthy of 007 himself. Shaken, not stirred, folks.
Here are some of Morgan’s sweetest snaps from his visit across the pond. You can read his full feature on the Belgian Grand Prize and the Infiniti-Red Bull factory on Driveway Canada.
Milton Keynes, England.
The security here seemingly rivals that of the most top-secret government institutions. (more…)
“Inside is a party room with coolers and video screens, which doubles as a green room when the world famous beverage company puts it into action at a concert or festival…”
Some of Western Canada’s unique never before seen cars, collectively worth millions, will be on display at the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver’s Ultimate Car Show.
But it’s my bet that an ‘old’ bus may will capture the attention of many attending the free auto extravaganza, set to get underway in the outdoor parking lot at 2080 United Blvd, Coquitlam, this Saturday, at 1 p.m. (August 16, 2014).
The Red Bull tour bus, built by Abbotsford’s 360 Fabrication, will take its place among more than 350 uniquely designed exotic, muscle and collector cars at this inaugural event, staged by the Casino in partnership with 360.
The bus, which doubles as an outdoor stage, was actually built from three buses – the front metre and a half was a 1960 transit bus, whereas the remaining 12 metres is a 1974 Silver Eagle built on a 2012 freightliner frame.
Inside is a party room with coolers and video screens, which doubles as a green room when the world famous beverage company puts it into action at a concert or festival. It is also a fully functional transformer with 120,000-watt sound system and 80,000-watt generator.
Keeping it company will be some impressive automobiles, including a 2015 Aston Martin Vanquish, one of only two in Canada; a 1965 Malibu SS, appraised at over $500,000; and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro appraised at more than $700,000.
The 2015 McLaren 650S is one of the most highly anticipated vehicles to come into the market and one will be featured at the event. Car and Driver magazine dubbed it as McLaren’s bid to compete with Ferrari. It has a twin-turbocharged and intercooler DOHC 32-valve V-8, 641-hp, engine.
You don’t need to own a super car to take part in the show. Those interested in displaying their specialty vehicle should arrive at the venue at 11a.m. with $20 in hand for registration. The proceeds will go to SHARE Family and Community Services, the signature charitable partner of Hard Rock Casino Vancouver. The judging panel will award prizes in eight categories including a $2,000 ‘winner take all’ prize for the Best in Show.
If you are on Vancouver Island this weekend, there is another great auto show worth visiting. The 2014 Vancouver Island Motor Gathering will take place on Sunday at the Viscount Aero Centre, at 9800 McDonald Park Road, in Sidney. It’s an annual event presented by the German Auto Import Network (GAIN), with proceeds going to the Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island and the Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation.
Hundreds of spectacular cars, motorcycles and even some airplanes are expected. Rare examples of the Porsche 904, 2006 Ford GT, and a 1964 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster will be among many classics. Be sure also to check out the Aston Martin DB5, Lamborghini Aventador, Ferrari 348i and Pininfarina-styled 308 GTB.
The Gathering (www.motorgathering.com) runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and admission is by a suggested minimum donation of $2 per person.
It is a certainty that the rapid-fire experimentation that is going on in F1 will result in improvements to our everyday cars…
Even if you squint while looking at the Hybrid gas-electric car on your driveway, you likely have a hard time imagining it is anything like an F1 race car.
However, the new advanced hybrid technology at play in this 2014 season means that Formula 1 has never been closer to your driveway.
The car power units are 1600cc turbocharged V6 engines with direct fuel injection. They have to complete each race with 35 percent less fuel, with a maximum fuel load of 100kg (not litres) and the fuel flow is restricted to 100 kg/hour. That would mean your favourite driver would bow out half way through without further engineering help.
In addition, the power units have two electric motors, one linked directly to the turbocharger, the other working in the same way that the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) used to do. The result is a combined maximum power output of around 760bhp, which is similar to the output of the V8 cars of last year.
It is a certainty that the rapid-fire experimentation that is going on in F1 will result in improvements to our everyday cars. That’s the beauty of this highly competitive sport that is so geared to winning. Changes come faster because there’s no chance to undertake testing that takes an age under normal testing.
Last year, when I visited the Monaco Grand Prix as a guest of the Infiniti-Red Bull F1 race team, I chatted to Infiniti engineers who marvelled at the pace of improvement. Said one Infiniti engineer: “They do things so much more quickly than we can do under normal development processes because they have to. And the changes they make are so thoroughly tested on the track. It points two ways: sometimes what they do shows us the way to go but also the way not to go!”
Hong Kong-based Infiniti has made a very shrewd move in tying itself to the F1 team and particularly the reigning F1 champion Sebastian Vettel. The German racer is the marque’s Director of Performance. His association goes far beyond the typical celebrity endorsement, for he takes on a literal hands-on-the-wheel approach to his role.
Last year, I drove with Vettel on the Paul Ricard circuit in the south of France. He talked enthusiastically about how he hoped to influence future Infiniti design and performance. At trackside, Infiniti personnel were impressed with his ability to tell them what changes they needed to make to its set up after only a couple of laps of the track.
He has played a significant role in the development of the compact Q30, which should surface later next year. He has already left his mark on the all-new Infiniti Q50 sport sedan and sports car enthusiasts pray a high-powered ‘Eau Rouge’ version of the car will hit the production line.
Now if I were a betting man I would say confirmation of production might be soon. Yours truly, will join the team again next month at the Belgian Grand Prix, at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps… location of the famous ‘Eau Rouge’ corner. We will drive Q50s from the south of England, through the Euro Tunnel and on to Spa.
Immediately prior to the race weekend, yours truly will join international journalists in a behind-the-scenes visit to the team’s UK base in Milton Keynes. There we will learn something about the fast track work they carry out on the F1 cars. I suspect we will get a peek in what is in store for that car on your driveway and you will read about it here.
Seb’s seat time with Driveway editor Keith Morgan clearly paid off as he went on to take his fourth straight championship… (more…)
Sebastian Vettel’s involvement and input on performance specifications suggest this will be no slouch in takeoff and handling…
From Los Angeles…
Four-time Formula One champion driver Sebastian Vettel has his fingerprints all over the Infiniti Q30 Concept on display at this city’s international auto show.
If that were literally the case, the detailing crew constantly cruising the show floor would soon remove his dabs. However, the hands-on impressions of the Infiniti-Red Bull racer are more than skin deep, extending deep into the performance of the sporty compact.
No powerplant details have been revealed for the car that will start rolling off the production line in early 2015 at Infiniti’s first European-based plant in the northeast UK city of Sunderland. However, Vettel’s involvement and input on performance specifications suggests this will be no slouch in takeoff and road handling. The Q30 Concept is the first model that the 26-year-old German driver has influenced from start-to-finish in his role as Infiniti’s Director of Performance. And a few words on that before we take a look at the sleek auto’s design.
My cynical colleagues have suggested publicly that Vettel’s title is no more than a marketing ploy, with Vettel filling no more than a celebrity spokesman role. But that’s most certainly not the case, based on my private conversations with some Infiniti engineers.
Just prior to my arrival for a drive with the young phenom on a French track this past spring, he had secretly put a number of Infiniti products and competitors through their paces and given immediate trackside input on suggested adjustments. In fact, one engineer told me Vettel is remarkable in the way he can do one lap and return with a complete commentary on how a car performed on every part of the track.
(If the F1 gig doesn’t work out there’s maybe a new career opp for him in the near future!)
The Q30 Concept is a fusion of coupe, hatchback, and crossover body styles and, like Vettel’s racecar, there’s liberal use of carbon fibre throughout. That makes it a very light, aerodynamic and thus potentially high-performing and economical car.
Interestingly, I’m told the designers combined Italian coachwork with the Japanese art of calligraphy to create the lightweight design. Inside, cream and bronze leather features with violet bespoke tailoring, along with contrasting matte and gloss finished metalwork.
Sculpted ceramics are integrated into the upper front seatbacks housing speakers for a “symphonic audio experience.” It offers a level of technologies and features not typically found in compact cars, such as the Infiniti InTouch infotainment system, which uses two touch screens.
Infiniti claims it expects significant growth in the compact premium segment among young-minded affluent customers. Note the reference to young minded.
“The Infiniti Q30 Concept is highly predictive of a new head-turning premium compact that we will launch in early 2015,” said Michael Bartsch, vice-president of Infiniti Americas.
“Research among the new generation of buyers – with Gen X and Gen Y soon to represent 80 per cent of the market – shows an increasing rejection of traditional notions toward premium cars. These buyers are less willing to connect size, presence and high-output power as key ingredients of the premium product. Rather, they’re looking more for balance, great design and outstanding execution.”
The Q30 will likely count the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and the Lexus CT200h hybrid hatchback among its competitors. This car could be a game changer in its class.