A Formula 1 Nissan Leaf Electric Car? Well, Not Quite: Rumor

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A little over two months ago Nissan made the announcement that its upmarket Infiniti division would become the title automotive sponsor of the championship-leading Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing. To even the least knowledgeable motorsport fan here at GreenCarReports, the benefits of the deal for the Japanese automaker are obvious.

However, it appears the benefits are not only flowing to Nissan and its Infiniti brand. Red Bull Racing also stands to gain considerably from the deal, and we’re not only talking about sponsorship dollars here.

The race cars in the 2011 Formula 1 season are equipped with a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS): either an electrical system that uses a motor-generator incorporated in the car’s transmission which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa, or a mechanical system that captures braking energy by turning a small flywheel which later connects directly to the wheels when the energy is required.

In the case of Red Bull Racing’s RB7 race car (pictured below), the electrical system with the motor-generator and battery is used. But unfortunately, Red Bull Racing’s KERS has not been functioning consistently this season and its engineers are still coming to grips with the technology.

Infiniti sponsors Red Bull Racing F1 team

Infiniti sponsors Red Bull Racing F1 team

That’s where Nissan steps in. Already possessing a boatload of electric drivetrain technology with vehicles like the Leaf and the recently revealed Leaf Nismo RC Concept, Nissan’s engineers are now working together with Red Bull Racing’s development team.

One area where both the race team and automaker could benefit is in the development of lightweight batteries. Red Bull Racing would also be effectively stress-testing high-end prototypes in very harsh conditions--namely, the extremes of Formula 1 racing.

[WhatCar? via MotorAuthority]

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