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. Thursday 2 April 2015

  2. Video of the Day: Lunch with a trophy 05:07

    Video of the Day: Lunch with a trophy

    Ferrari staff get up close and personal with the team's Winning Constructor trophy from Malaysia.

    F1
  3. Wednesday 1 April 2015

  4. 18:23

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  5. Gasly gets Toro Rosso test chance 18:05

    Gasly gets Toro Rosso test chance

    Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly will drive for Toro Rosso at the post-Spanish Grand Prix test. Toro Rosso confirmed Gasly's…

    F1
  6. F1 engine allocation set to be increased 15:36

    F1 engine allocation set to be increased

    Formula 1 drivers are set to see their engine allowance increased from four units to five for the rest of the 2015 season…

    F1
  7. Video: Porsche showcases 919 Hybrid 12:03

    Video: Porsche showcases 919 Hybrid

    Porsche showcases the 919 Hybrid that will contest this year's World Endurance Championship, including the prestigious 24 Hours…

    Misc
  8. Feature: Hülkenberg on his Le Mans adventure 11:47

    Feature: Hülkenberg on his Le Mans adventure

    Nico Hülkenberg will live the dream of most racing drivers when he competes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche this year.…

    F1
  9. 07:32

    Gallery: Best photos from the Malaysian GP

    F1
  10. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Malaysia 07:14

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Malaysia

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  11. Video of the Day: Vettel's radio message 05:08

    Video of the Day: Vettel's radio message

    Listen to Sebastian Vettel's radio transmission as he celebrates victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

    F1
  12. Tuesday 31 March 2015

  13. Video: Domenicali on future of formula racing 15:07

    Video: Domenicali on future of formula racing

    Stefano Domenicali, President of the FIA Single-Seater Commission, discusses the future of formula racing.

    F1
  14. Unchanged grid for Long Beach ePrix 12:30

    Unchanged grid for Long Beach ePrix

    For the first time this season, Formula E's 20-strong grid will remain unchanged between races. Scott Speed, who narrowly…

    FE
  15. Feature: Malaysian GP's key questions 12:07

    Feature: Malaysian GP's key questions

    Prior to last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, GPUpdate.net posed five key questions for the second round of the season at the…

    F1
  16. Five F1 teams confirmed for Goodwood 10:48

    Five F1 teams confirmed for Goodwood

    Five Formula 1 teams have been confirmed for this year's Goodwood Festival of Speed. World Champion team Mercedes, Williams…

    F1
  17. Rossi to star at Goodwood Festival of Speed 10:21

    Rossi to star at Goodwood Festival of Speed

    Valentino Rossi will make his first appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year. The MotoGP legend will attend the…

    MotoGP
  18. Record-breaking Márquez targets Austin recovery 09:02

    Record-breaking Márquez targets Austin recovery

    World Champion Marc Márquez says he and Repsol Honda can recover at the next round of the MotoGP season at the Circuit of the…

    MotoGP
  19. Video of the Day: Rosberg's Sepang blog 05:16

    Video of the Day: Rosberg's Sepang blog

    A downbeat Nico Rosberg discusses the Malaysian Grand Prix as he reflects on his podium place at Sepang.

    F1
  20. Monday 30 March 2015

  21. Malaysian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 16:44

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Sebastian Vettel surged clear to return Ferrari to the top step at the Malaysian Grand Prix as Mercedes was beaten for the first…

    F1
  22. Sauber rues 'missed opportunity' for points 14:29

    Sauber rues 'missed opportunity' for points

    Sauber Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn says her squad missed out on an opportunity to add more points to its tally as neither…

    F1
  23. Renault heartened by Ferrari success 12:41

    Renault heartened by Ferrari success

    Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul says that the company must keep pushing as Ferrari's victory in the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  24. Video: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg highlights 11:38

    Video: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg highlights

    Watch highlights from the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg as Juan Pablo Montoya took the win.

    Indy
  25. Wolff: Ferrari victory 'good' for Formula 1 11:22

    Wolff: Ferrari victory 'good' for Formula 1

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff believes that Sebastian Vettel's triumph at the Malaysian Grand Prix is positive for Formula 1, as…

    F1
  26. Ericsson believes seventh was possible 10:50

    Ericsson believes seventh was possible

    Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson believes that seventh place was possible for the squad in Malaysia, had he not spun out of…

    F1
  27. Rossi revels in 'one of the best races' 09:12

    Rossi revels in 'one of the best races'

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi described his victory in the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar as one of the best races of his…

    MotoGP
  28. Arrivabene urges Ferrari to maintain progress 08:30

    Arrivabene urges Ferrari to maintain progress

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene says the squad must remain realistic, despite claiming its first victory in almost…

    F1
  29. Video of the Day: Get ready for Long Beach 05:17

    Video of the Day: Get ready for Long Beach

    Formula E stays in the United States for round six of its inaugural season – the Long Beach ePrix.

    FE
  30. 01:23

    Championship standings after Malaysia

    F1
  31. Sunday 29 March 2015

  32. Montoya outduels Power to take St. Pete victory 23:16

    Montoya outduels Power to take St. Pete victory

    Juan Pablo Montoya held off team-mate and pole-sitter Will Power to win the season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St.…

    Indy
  33. Pedrosa reveals arm injury, considering future 22:30

    Pedrosa reveals arm injury, considering future

    Honda's Dani Pedrosa says he is considering his options after revealing that he has been suffering with an arm problem for over…

    MotoGP
  34. Rossi beats Dovizioso in Qatar thriller 19:51

    Rossi beats Dovizioso in Qatar thriller

    Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi claimed victory in the opening round of the MotoGP season in Qatar as he beat Ducati's Andrea…

    MotoGP
  35. Video: Will Power's record St. Pete lap 17:06

    Video: Will Power's record St. Pete lap

    Enjoy Will Power's record pole-winning lap for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

    Indy
  36. 16:02

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday at Sepang

    F1
  37. Räikkönen achieves 'maximum' after puncture 15:20

    Räikkönen achieves 'maximum' after puncture

    Kimi Räikkönen says fourth position was the best result possible after he sustained a puncture during the early stages of the…

    F1
  38. McLaren drivers say pace 'a nice surprise' 13:41

    McLaren drivers say pace 'a nice surprise'

    Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button say that McLaren-Honda's raw pace during the Malaysian Grand Prix came as "a nice…

    F1
  39. Verstappen delighted with maiden points 12:59

    Verstappen delighted with maiden points

    Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen expressed his satisfaction after becoming the youngest ever points scorer in Formula 1…

    F1
  40. Ferrari Chairman hails 'incredibly hard work' 12:44

    Ferrari Chairman hails 'incredibly hard work'

    Sergio Marchionne praised the "incredibly hard work" of his Ferrari team after Sebastian Vettel took victory in the Malaysian…

    F1
  41. Kvyat: Hülkenberg clash a racing incident 12:12

    Kvyat: Hülkenberg clash a racing incident

    Red Bull's Daniil Kvyat played down his contact with Force India rival Nico Hülkenberg during the Malaysian Grand Prix, which…

    F1
  42. Brake issues hampers Maldonado at Sepang 12:09

    Brake issues hampers Maldonado at Sepang

    Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado was forced to retire from the Malaysian Grand Prix with a brake issue, as his and the squad's…

    F1
  43. Rosberg wants improved communication 12:05

    Rosberg wants improved communication

    Nico Rosberg has urged Mercedes to improve communication after he came home a distant third in the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  44. Merhi elated by maiden Formula 1 finish 11:54

    Merhi elated by maiden Formula 1 finish

    Formula 1 debutant Roberto Merhi expressed his joy after he was able to finish his first ever race in the sport as he came home…

    F1
  45. Hamilton: Ferrari too fast for us today 11:42

    Hamilton: Ferrari too fast for us today

    Lewis Hamilton has admitted that Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari were simply "too fast" to deal with during the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
more news