Exclusive interview with Paul Hembery

Exclusive interview with Paul Hembery

23 July 2014 – Pirelli faced one of its biggest challenges since returning to the sport this season, having to adapt its products to all-new regulations with limited testing. GPUpdate.net sat down for a conversation with brand Motorsport Director Paul Hembery at the German Grand Prix to discuss the season so far and what lies ahead.

Firstly Paul, is it pleasing not to be the centre of attention this season?
(Laughs) A lot of people have asked me that! Formula 1 is also an entertainment business and you're going to get themes each season. Last year we became the theme and you have to be slightly pragmatic. That comes with the territory. If you want to be more than just in the background then sometimes it will bite you. You have to live with that and just continue believing in what you're doing and make sure you're doing the best you can.

Of course, it would be wrong if we were in the limelight all the time. But I think we've got back to a good balance as we did in the first and second years, so we're very happy with the level of interest this year.

We've had massive regulation changes this season, with a move from V8 engines to turbo V6 power plants and aerodynamic cut-backs. What have you learned so far and what can you take into 2015?

We've had less wheelspin than anticipated. Sliding at the start of the year was heavy. That made them slow, they put a lot of energy into the tyres and they degraded heavier than what we knew would be the case as the season progressed.

As you see now, they've got relatively low levels of degradation and the cars aren't sliding as much. They've still got low levels of grip as they haven't got the rear downforce that they had in the past, and the rear end is twitchy on most cars. So we still see the rear tyre as pretty critical. We see that maybe we need to do some work in the centre of the tyre; there's a bit of a concentration heat build-up there, so we just need to even out the footprint pressure.

It's minor detailing and we've done that now. The Silverstone test was the finalisation of next year's structure. With the compounds, we'll wait until we get to the end of this season as we still want to see the development rates. Teams will still be pushing, unlike last year when a lot gave up mid-season because they were working on this year. What they do this year is still going to be very relevant for next season, so we need to check where we are at the end of the year. But as it is, I don't think we'll see any huge changes in compounds. Maybe just some of the temperature working ranges – when it's cooler we've had a bit more graining than we would have liked.

It must serve as a boost for your simulator tools, that only small changes are required...

We have been able to improve our simulation tools and indoor simulation work.

But it did help, of course, going testing in Bahrain pre-season. In reality we didn't change anything, but at least we knew where we were. In previous seasons, testing at a cold Barcelona, it wasn't until you got to China that you really knew what was going on. So it was much better going to a relevant circuit. That was really positive.

We've got gradual changes to the testing regulations on the way; test days are being cut and there will be no pre-season gatherings outside of Europe from 2015. How does this sit with you?
It's a shame, because this year we had what we felt was a good compromise. Looking selfishly, this was a very good way to start a season and a good way to have in-season testing.

The European venues aren't confirmed yet. What would be your preference?
Barcelona's a good one, because of the start of the European season. Jerez, no. Absolutely not.

We will be making comment that we still feel that the sport should be having at least one session in Bahrain, pre-season, before that's a lost opportunity. Because [the teams] have to get a consensus I guess it doesn't work, but there's a number of them that feel we're losing out by not doing something like that again.

If there's some financial assistance for the teams to get there then maybe [a test] could be the case.

You recently tested the 18 inch low profile tyre concept. Have you had any more reaction?
For us it goes back to the F1 Commission. I'll prepare a little booklet for them, a couple of pages showing the images and any comments that we pick up. They can then make a qualified decision.

The idea was really to provoke the discussion. So instead of just talking about hypothetical situations, we've shown everyone that's what a current F1 car would look like. By and large, people are positive. It's not really us pushing it, it's more us trying to be proactive and give the sport a decision. It's not our decision. We will do whatever the sport asks us. If they want to stay 13, we will stay 13. However, if they want to change the look and the feel of the car, then 18, 19, 20… that's what it'll look like. The engineers will probably want to stay 13, because change costs money. But I'm told that 2017 will also bring a whole raft of other changes to the sport and it would be the ideal date for making wholesale changes.

I think we did what we needed to do to give a service and allow the sport to make a qualified decision.

But on the whole it's been positive?
We haven't really had any negativity. People keep sending me surveys and I think the lowest score I've seen is 70 per cent in favour up to 90 per cent. We wanted to hear what people thought, because we have heard from fans that are a bit tired of us making changes to the sport and they go, 'What the hell are you doing?'

You are obviously supplying tyres to GP2 and GP3, which run alongside Formula 1. Are you looking at all three categories switching to the lower profile tyres if the change is ratified?
Yeah, we would be looking at the whole package. We've got the tender for 2017, so we need to understand if Formula 1 is definitely going that way. If it is, then we need to be preparing the other series behind that.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Friday 24 March 2017

  2. 03:26

    Latest F1 photos: Friday in Melbourne

    F1
  3. Video: CNN's Formula 1 2017 preview 03:20

    Video: CNN's Formula 1 2017 preview

    CNN looks ahead to the 2017 F1 season, featuring interviews with Valtteri Bottas and Stoffel Vandoorne.

    F1
  4. Pérez lands first fine of 2017 for speeding 03:14

    Pérez lands first fine of 2017 for speeding

    Sergio Pérez has been hit with the first fine of 2017 after he was caught speeding in the pit lane during Friday's opening…

    F1
  5. 02:36

    Australian Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  6. Hamilton fastest as 2017 season begins 02:35

    Hamilton fastest as 2017 season begins

    Lewis Hamilton comfortably topped Friday's first practice session for the Australian Grand Prix, finishing over half a second…

    F1
  7. 00:42

    Follow first practice for the Australian GP!

    F1
  8. 'Confident' Viñales eyes race pace focus 00:22

    'Confident' Viñales eyes race pace focus

    Early Qatar Grand Prix pace-setter Maverick Viñales says he will focus on long-run speed after he bolted to the top of the…

    MotoGP
  9. Video of the Day: Ricciardo on Australia 00:12

    Video of the Day: Ricciardo on Australia

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo looks ahead to the Australian Grand Prix, his home event.

    F1
  10. Thursday 23 March 2017

  11. 18:14

    Latest MotoGP photos: Thursday at Losail

    MotoGP
  12. 18:12

    Qatar Grand Prix: Full first practice results

    MotoGP
  13. Viñales comfortably clear in first practice 17:54

    Viñales comfortably clear in first practice

    Yamaha's new recruit Maverick Viñales built on his pre-season form as he romped clear of his rivals during the opening practice…

    MotoGP
  14. Video: Dan Fallows on Red Bull's RB13 16:06

    Video: Dan Fallows on Red Bull's RB13

    Red Bull Racing's Chief Aero Engineer Dan Fallows discusses Formula 1's 2017 regulation changes, which include wider tyres…

    F1
  15. Lowe: Williams can win as customer team 14:32

    Lowe: Williams can win as customer team

    Paddy Lowe, newly-signed Chief Technical Officer at Williams, is adamant that the team can win races and titles as a customer…

    F1
  16. Hamilton plays down Rosberg absence 12:22

    Hamilton plays down Rosberg absence

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton says the absence of reigning World Champion and former team-mate Nico Rosberg on the grid this…

    F1
  17. Background: FIA drops 'Verstappen rule' 11:16

    Background: FIA drops 'Verstappen rule'

    FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting has outlined why Formula 1's so-called 'Verstappen rule', regarding moving under braking, has…

    F1
  18. FIA confident of protest-free season-opener 11:02

    FIA confident of protest-free season-opener

    Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, is confident that the Australian Grand Prix will not involve any protests over suspension…

    F1
  19. Lorenzo: Initial struggles were a 'shock' 10:42

    Lorenzo: Initial struggles were a 'shock'

    Jorge Lorenzo says his initial lack of pace upon his switch to Ducati came as a "shock", but is confident that he can continue…

    MotoGP
  20. 10:02

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Melbourne

    F1
  21. Force India's new livery breaks cover 09:49

    Force India's new livery breaks cover

    Force India's all-new matte pink livery has broken cover ahead of this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand Prix in…

    F1
  22. Video: Toro Rosso drivers in Casio time trial 08:02

    Video: Toro Rosso drivers in Casio time trial

    Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Daniil Kvyat take part in a time trial with partner Casio at St. Kilda.

    F1
  23. GPUpdate readers back Vettel for victory 07:09

    GPUpdate readers back Vettel for victory

    GPUpdate.net readers have narrowly backed Sebastian Vettel to claim victory at this weekend's season-opening Australian Grand…

    F1
  24. Register for GPUpdate Manager 2017! 07:02

    Register for GPUpdate Manager 2017!

    Have you ever dreamed of owning a Formula 1 team with your ideal driver pairing and engine? GPUpdate.net readers can now sign up…

    F1
  25. Hamilton: Ferrari the favourite for 2017 05:13

    Hamilton: Ferrari the favourite for 2017

    Lewis Hamilton has reiterated his belief that Ferrari will be a genuine threat to Mercedes in 2017, going as far as to state…

    F1
  26. Pérez reveals post-Barcelona weight loss 04:43

    Pérez reveals post-Barcelona weight loss

    Sergio Pérez has revealed that he has lost around two to three kilos since the pre-season testing period in Barcelona, where…

    F1
  27. Nissany moves to RP Motorsport in 3.5 04:32

    Nissany moves to RP Motorsport in 3.5

    Roy Nissany has switched to RP Motorsport in World Series Formula V8 3.5, with Damiano Fioravanti in turn joining Barone…

    World Series
  28. Whiting: Cockpit protection call next month 03:41

    Whiting: Cockpit protection call next month

    F1 Race Director Charlie Whiting says a decision over whether extra cockpit protection – such as the halo – will be…

    F1
  29. Wehrlein officially cleared to race in Australia 03:23

    Wehrlein officially cleared to race in Australia

    Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein has been officially cleared to take part in this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, following…

    F1
  30. Video of the Day: Australian GP track guide 03:12

    Video of the Day: Australian GP track guide

    Force India's Sergio Pérez talks you through a lap of Albert Park, home to the Australian Grand Prix.

    F1
  31. Wednesday 22 March 2017

  32. Video: Rossi visor cam footage at Barber 19:02

    Video: Rossi visor cam footage at Barber

    Ride onboard with Andretti Herta Autosport driver Alexander Rossi at Barber Motorsports Park.

    Indy
  33. 17:02

    Follow GPUpdate on Instagram in 2017!

    F1
  34. Dovizioso hopes for Qatar victory challenge 16:24

    Dovizioso hopes for Qatar victory challenge

    Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso is optimistic that he can fight for victory at this weekend's season-opening race in Qatar…

    MotoGP
  35. Sainz Jr. optimistic of points-scoring start 14:44

    Sainz Jr. optimistic of points-scoring start

    Carlos Sainz Jr. is confident he can take a strong haul of points from this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, as he bids to…

    F1
  36. Feature: How did class of 2017 fare on debuts? 11:02

    Feature: How did class of 2017 fare on debuts?

    Williams driver Lance Stroll will be the only full rookie on the 2017 Formula 1 grid when the season begins with the Australian…

    F1
  37. Gelael set for Formula 1 test runs with STR 10:47

    Gelael set for Formula 1 test runs with STR

    Formula 2 racer Sean Gelael is to make his Formula 1 test debut with Toro Rosso in Bahrain next month, and is also set for…

    F1
  38. Vettel settles on 'Gina' for 2017 car name 09:39

    Vettel settles on 'Gina' for 2017 car name

    Sebastian Vettel has named his 2017 car, the SF70H, 'Gina', according to reports. Vettel, who made his Formula 1 debut with…

    F1
  39. Video: Red Bull's 'Dinghy Dash' in Melbourne 09:12

    Video: Red Bull's 'Dinghy Dash' in Melbourne

    Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen get set for the Australian GP by tearing up the Yarra River.

    F1
  40. Abiteboul confirms Renault ERS issue fixed 08:13

    Abiteboul confirms Renault ERS issue fixed

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says the manufacturer has addressed the Energy Recovery System (ERS) issue which…

    F1
  41. Koiranen absent from opening GP3 test 07:53

    Koiranen absent from opening GP3 test

    Koiranen GP will miss this week's opening GP3 test of the campaign at Estoril, amid doubts over the team's participation in the…

    GP3
  42. Márquez starting 2017 'better' than 2016 07:32

    Márquez starting 2017 'better' than 2016

    Marc Márquez reckons he and Honda are in a "better" position to tackle the upcoming MotoGP season, compared to 2016, as he…

    MotoGP
  43. 06:46

    Latest F1 photos: Wednesday in Melbourne

    F1
more news