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It could be argued that the only sport worth the billions of dollars invested is motor racing, the only sport where investment has real world implications as technologies end up trickling into our road cars.

Infinitis new technical partnership with F1’s premier Red Bull racing team has its sights set on leveraging its race experience to build better cars. Infinitis Direct Response Hybrid system underpinning the Q50 H and QX60 H, seems to have its roots in Formula 1. The system that uses an electric motor wedged between the engine and the transmission is very reminiscent of the F1 KERS system. Using regenerative braking to recharge the system Infinitis DRH pulls power from the electric motor to give performance boosts during acceleration or overtaking.

Hybrid systems are the latest in a long line of racing influenced technology that has made its way onto Main Street, here’s a quick look at some of the others.

Tires on racing cars have had a big impact on street cars. In the late 60s, tire manufacturers discovered that untreaded patterns on dry weather tires allowed the rubbers surface area to have more contact with the road. In turn, wet weather tires have a tread which allows water to channel away from the contact patch keeping grip intact. This technology has trickled to consumer tires: off-road vehicles are likely to have deep tread tires, where sports cars will have lighter treads keeping more rubber in touch with the road.

Possibly the most important influence that Formula 1 has had is research on safety. With cars reaching speeds of over 200 mph, the drivers need to be safe, and the same is true of cars on the road. Race cars are rigorously tested and the data is used to better understand how to manage the impact of crashes in road cars. In a crash most modern cars will crumple right up until the cab which is reinforced, similar to the way an F1 car disintegrates into a carbon fibre tub after a crash.

In racing, development is all about speed, in consumer vehicles it’s all about using less fuel. Both results can be found on different sides of the same coin. The extreme conditions of racing provide a very fast and efficient way to test new developments, innovations can see city streets within 5 to 10 years.

What do you guys think, does the partnership give Infiniti an edge over its competitors?
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