MONTREAL, PQ: For Stephen Lester, the 2016 Montreal Grand Prix starts now.
Lester is the managing director of Infiniti Canada and part of his job is making sure that when the Infiniti Red Bull Formula One team arrives next year in Montreal everything will be in place.
His primary job is to ensure the full support and assistance required for the myriad of chores that need to be done are done so the F1 team can focus on winning the race.
During a brief break in the action during Sunday’s F1 action, Lester was asked when Infiniti Canada starts planning for next year’s race.
“The value of our partnership with Red Bull Racing can’t be summed up in three days.”
There’s more to it than being a cornerstone of the team’s presence in Montreal over the race weekend providing shuttle vehicles and drivers, organizing and leading activities and just making sure people coming in from around the world get to where they are going.
It involves things such as the Infiniti Red Bull F1 show car of which there are six in the world, three of which are in North America.
Infiniti Canada brings it to auto shows, dealerships and special promotions and that involves working with the rest of the continent on timing, logistics and availability.
Equating Infiniti’s racing success into a reason why a consumer comes into a dealership is a huge factor.
“We are a performance car company, which explains why Infiniti is the title sponsor of the team,” Lester said. “Not every brand has that story to tell.”
The Infiniti Red Bull partnership has so far resulted in four F1 Constructors’ World Championships and three world drivers’ title.
But Lester said it goes much further then that, noting there is very healthy collaboration going on across people, processes and technologies. He said this synergy has grown as the partnership enters its fifth year into an “open door” policy allowing both sides to access a pool of innovation, new technologies and R&D resources in the shared pursuit of performance.
Real world examples include the design of the paddle shifters on the 2013 F1 car leading to those on the Q50 performance sedan. Also, Red Bull expertise in carbon fibre and magnesium has been invaluable in lowering weight on Infiniti road vehicles.
The tie-in, not just for Infiniti Canada, but the brand worldwide, is consumer awareness.
Infiniti estimates the value to them from TV alone worldwide is $2 billion.
“F1 is a big factor in recognition, Lester said. “We capitalize on that in a number of ways like print and TV and other avenues like Enroute and Sympatico.
“But also, social media is becoming an increasingly important factor in getting our performance car company image across.”