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. Wednesday 28 January 2015

  2. 11:18

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Force India elects to skip Jerez test 11:16

    Force India elects to skip Jerez test

    Force India has opted against attending the first pre-season test at Jerez with its 2014 machine, and will instead focus its...

    F1
  4. Video: Räikkönen gets seated in the SF15-T 11:04

    Video: Räikkönen gets seated in the SF15-T

    Ferrari has released a video of Kimi Räikkönen sitting in the new SF15-T, to be revealed on Friday.

    F1
  5. Malja graduates to FR3.5 with Strakka 11:00

    Malja graduates to FR3.5 with Strakka

    Gustav Malja will make the step up to Formula Renault 3.5 with Strakka Racing for 2015. The Swede, 19, has spent the past...

    FR 3.5
  6. Williams signs Lynn as development driver 10:16

    Williams signs Lynn as development driver

    Williams has signed GP3 champion Alex Lynn as its development driver for the 2015 season. Lynn's primary role will be to...

    F1
  7. Kvyat out to emulate team-mate Ricciardo 10:01

    Kvyat out to emulate team-mate Ricciardo

    New Red Bull recruit Daniil Kvyat believes that he can emulate the achievements of team-mate Daniel Ricciardo after stepping...

    F1
  8. Renault makes 'fundamental' engine changes 09:54

    Renault makes 'fundamental' engine changes

    Renault says it has made "fundamental changes" to its Formula 1 engine over the winter period, as it bids to close in on...

    F1
  9. Ricciardo eyes 'proper title fight' in 2015 09:14

    Ricciardo eyes 'proper title fight' in 2015

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo hopes he can challenge Mercedes' dominance and enjoy a "proper title fight" during the 2015...

    F1
  10. Ferrari: Guidelines for new SF15-T simple 08:35

    Ferrari: Guidelines for new SF15-T simple

    Ferrari Technical Director James Allison says the guidelines for the new SF15-T were clear as its predecessor was simply...

    F1
  11. Video of the Day: Hamilton talks fashion 05:06

    Video of the Day: Hamilton talks fashion

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton answers questions at the Mercedes-Benz Champions of Fashion film shoot.

    F1
  12. Tuesday 27 January 2015

  13. 20:17

    Photos: Red Bull drivers take to the slopes

    F1
  14. Horner: New Red Bull not ready yet 18:45

    Horner: New Red Bull not ready yet

    Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has revealed the outfit is yet to complete its new Formula 1 car, and that there is...

    F1
  15. Video: Allison on the new Ferrari SF15-T 17:32

    Video: Allison on the new Ferrari SF15-T

    Technical Director James Allison talks about the new Ferrari SF15-T, ahead of its official launch on Friday.

    F1
  16. Sauber confirms C34 launch date 16:03

    Sauber confirms C34 launch date

    Sauber has announced that it will unveil its new challenger, the C34, on January 30. The Ferrari-powered car will be...

    F1
  17. Sørensen signs with Carlin for 2015 15:13

    Sørensen signs with Carlin for 2015

    Lotus F1 Team junior driver Marco Sørensen will compete in GP2 this year with Carlin. The Dane, 24, who contested a part...

    GP2
  18. Video: Kubica survives massive Monte off 13:30

    Video: Kubica survives massive Monte off

    Former Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica survives a massive off on day two of Rallye Monte Carlo. The Pole did not finish,...

    Misc
  19. McLaren fires up MP4-30 for first time 10:17

    McLaren fires up MP4-30 for first time

    McLaren fired up the MP4-30, its 2015 Formula 1 challenger, for the first time on Monday, as the team gears up for a new era...

    F1
  20. Lotus hopeful of return to form in 2015 09:28

    Lotus hopeful of return to form in 2015

    Lotus CEO Matthew Carter says the squad is ready to move back up the Formula 1 grid, having endured one of its worst...

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: Force India behind the scenes 05:06

    Video of the Day: Force India behind the scenes

    Go behind-the-scenes with Force India in their 'making of' video of the squad's 2015 launch in Mexico City

    F1
  22. Monday 26 January 2015

  23. 14:17

    Photos: Lotus unveils E23 Hybrid

    F1
  24. Lotus releases first images of E23 Hybrid 14:10

    Lotus releases first images of E23 Hybrid

    Lotus has revealed the first images of its Mercedes-powered E23 Hybrid, which the team hopes will propel it back up the...

    F1
  25. Palmer: Lotus reserve deal a 'no brainer' 13:25

    Palmer: Lotus reserve deal a 'no brainer'

    Reigning GP2 Champion Jolyon Palmer says joining Lotus as its reserve driver was a "no brainer", due to the amount of track...

    F1
  26. Ferrari reveals name of 2015 challenger 11:36

    Ferrari reveals name of 2015 challenger

    Ferrari has revealed the name of its 2015 challenger, ahead of its unveiling at the end of the week. The team will...

    F1
  27. Bottas to debut Williams FW37 at Jerez 08:53

    Bottas to debut Williams FW37 at Jerez

    Williams has confirmed that Valtteri Bottas will give the new Mercedes-powered FW37 its public debut on the first day of...

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: Rosberg's torture machine 05:08

    Video of the Day: Rosberg's torture machine

    Nico Rosberg demonstrates his 'torture chamber' as he trains for the upcoming Formula 1 campaign.

    F1
  29. Sunday 25 January 2015

  30. Renault targeting 'at least five wins' in 2015 16:36

    Renault targeting 'at least five wins' in 2015

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul expects the French manufacturer to halve its engine deficit to pacesetters...

    F1
  31. 'Evolutionary approach' for Force India's VJM08 13:22

    'Evolutionary approach' for Force India's VJM08

    Force India Chief Operating Officer Otmar Szafnauer says the squad's VJM08 is an evolution, with the car containing much of...

    F1
  32. Rosberg got over 2014 disappointment quickly 08:11

    Rosberg got over 2014 disappointment quickly

    Mercedes' Nico Rosberg says it took him just a few days to get over losing out on the 2014 title and is ready to fight again...

    F1
  33. Video of the Day: Inside the Abt garage 05:04

    Video of the Day: Inside the Abt garage

    Go behind the scenes in the Audi Sport Abt Formula E garage with driver Daniel Abt.

    FE
  34. Saturday 24 January 2015

  35. Streiff retracts comments following FIA threat 13:13

    Streiff retracts comments following FIA threat

    Philippe Streiff has retracted comments made about the FIA after President Jean Todt and Medical Commission boss Gérard...

    F1
  36. Arrivabene wants 'heavy metal band' sound in F1 07:39

    Arrivabene wants 'heavy metal band' sound in F1

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene has backed calls by Mercedes' Niki Lauda to boost the spectacle of Formula 1 and...

    F1
  37. Video of the Day: McLaren P1 GTR approaches 05:17

    Video of the Day: McLaren P1 GTR approaches

    In just under two months, the McLaren P1 GTR will be officially presented at the Geneva Motor Show.

    F1
  38. Friday 23 January 2015

  39. Video: Vettel in Ferrari's 2015 challenger 17:23

    Video: Vettel in Ferrari's 2015 challenger

    Ferrari has released a short video of Sebastian Vettel sitting in the team's 2015 Formula 1 car.

    F1
  40. Vettel to complete first laps in new Ferrari 16:15

    Vettel to complete first laps in new Ferrari

    Sebastian Vettel will be the first to drive Ferrari's new Formula 1 car at next month's Jerez test, a spokesman for the...

    F1
  41. Exclusive interview with Pirelli's Paul Hembery 15:32

    Exclusive interview with Pirelli's Paul Hembery

    Formula 1 returns to action at the start of next month, when the majority of teams debut their new cars at Jerez. Ahead of...

    F1
  42. 15:09

    Photos: Construction work in Mexico City

    F1
  43. Red Bull offers £10,000 reward after robbery 14:43

    Red Bull offers £10,000 reward after robbery

    Red Bull has offered a £10,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of those who stole over 60 trophies from...

    F1
  44. Sauber confirms driver schedule for Jerez 13:56

    Sauber confirms driver schedule for Jerez

    Sauber has confirmed its driver schedule for the opening pre-season test at the Circuito de Jerez, which takes place from...

    F1
  45. Marciello joins Trident for 2015 season 10:07

    Marciello joins Trident for 2015 season

    Ferrari youngster Raffaele Marciello has switched to Trident for his second GP2 season. The Swiss-born Italian, 20, made...

    GP2
  46. Hernández forced to miss first Sepang test 09:56

    Hernández forced to miss first Sepang test

    Pramac rider Yonny Hernández will skip next month's opening Sepang test after dislocating his left shoulder in a dirt track...

    MotoGP
more news