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. Saturday 1 October 2016

  2. 11:05

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
  3. Hamilton storms to Malaysian GP pole 11:03

    Hamilton storms to Malaysian GP pole

    Lewis Hamilton dominated qualifying to claim pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix, ahead of Mercedes team-mate and…

    F1
  4. 09:48

    Follow qualifying for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  5. Formula 1 tightens double yellow flag rules 09:02

    Formula 1 tightens double yellow flag rules

    Formula 1 drivers have been told that they must now abandon any laps during free practice and qualifying sessions if…

    F1
  6. Vandoorne: Positive to race next to Alonso 08:42

    Vandoorne: Positive to race next to Alonso

    Stoffel Vandoorne reckons it is "positive" that he will be racing alongside Fernando Alonso at McLaren next season, due to the…

    F1
  7. 08:24

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Saturday at Sepang

    F1
  8. 08:05

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    F1
  9. Hamilton leads Verstappen in final practice 08:02

    Hamilton leads Verstappen in final practice

    Lewis Hamilton remained at the top of the timesheets during Saturday morning's final practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  10. Alonso's penalty increases with new parts 07:18

    Alonso's penalty increases with new parts

    Fernando Alonso's grid penalty at the Malaysian Grand Prix has increased to 45 positions after McLaren-Honda elected to fit new…

    F1
  11. 06:52

    Follow final practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  12. 05:58

    Latest GP2 photos: Saturday at Sepang

    GP2
  13. Giovinazzi wins race, Prema clinches title 05:54

    Giovinazzi wins race, Prema clinches title

    Antonio Giovinazzi wrestled back control of the GP2 Series title race with victory during a thrilling Feature Race at Sepang…

    GP2
  14. 04:18

    Latest GP3 photos: Saturday at Sepang

    GP3
  15. Albon wins after dramatic opening lap 04:16

    Albon wins after dramatic opening lap

    Alexander Albon claimed his fourth victory of the GP3 season for ART Grand Prix after a dramatic opening lap in the first race…

    GP3
  16. Video of the Day: Mercedes pit-stop challenge 03:06

    Video of the Day: Mercedes pit-stop challenge

    Watch as Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg become mechanics and take on the pit-stop challenge.

    F1
  17. Friday 30 September 2016

  18. Bryan Herta/Andretti renew partnership 19:05

    Bryan Herta/Andretti renew partnership

    Bryan Herta Autosport and Andretti Autosport have confirmed that they have extended their partnership into the 2017 IndyCar…

    Indy
  19. Hockenheim: No agreement for 2017 F1 race 17:58

    Hockenheim: No agreement for 2017 F1 race

    Officials at Hockenheim say there is currently no agreement in place for the circuit to host the German Grand Prix next year…

    F1
  20. 14:02

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  21. 13:30

    Latest Formula 1 photos: Friday at Sepang

    F1
  22. Palou excluded from GP3 qualifying 13:29

    Palou excluded from GP3 qualifying

    Campos driver Álex Palou has been excluded from the results of GP3 qualifying at Sepang after his car was found to be in breach…

    GP3
  23. Alonso boosted by McLaren improvements 13:15

    Alonso boosted by McLaren improvements

    Fernando Alonso was left boosted by McLaren's progress after an encouraging pair of practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  24. Renault: Valve problem led to Magnussen fire 12:12

    Renault: Valve problem led to Magnussen fire

    Renault Technical Director Nick Chester has confirmed that a problem with the valve on a fuel breather pipe triggered Kevin…

    F1
  25. Force India 'very confident' Pérez will stay 10:53

    Force India 'very confident' Pérez will stay

    Force India Deputy Team Principal Bob Fernley has reiterated that the outfit is "very confident" over Sergio Pérez remaining…

    F1
  26. 10:36

    Latest GP3 photos: Friday at Sepang

    GP3
  27. Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in Sepang qualifying 10:35

    Leclerc leads ART 1-2-3 in Sepang qualifying

    Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc extended his GP3 Series title advantage to 28 points after taking his fourth pole position of…

    GP3
  28. Verstappen optimistic over long run pace 09:50

    Verstappen optimistic over long run pace

    Max Verstappen feels that Red Bull is looking "very strong" on its long run pace after the first day of practice for the…

    F1
  29. 09:42

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Sepang

    GP2
  30. Gasly beats title rival Giovinazzi to pole 09:41

    Gasly beats title rival Giovinazzi to pole

    Pierre Gasly extended his GP2 Series advantage to 14 points after beating Prema team-mate and title rival Antonio Giovinazzi to…

    GP2
  31. Hamilton: First day a 'good building block' 09:28

    Hamilton: First day a 'good building block'

    Lewis Hamilton has called his first day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix a "good building block", after struggling in…

    F1
  32. Vettel urges Ferrari to take any chances 09:10

    Vettel urges Ferrari to take any chances

    Sebastian Vettel has urged Ferrari to take any opportunities that come its way over the final six races of the season, starting…

    F1
  33. 08:35

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  34. Hamilton moves ahead in second practice 08:33

    Hamilton moves ahead in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton moved to the top of the times during Friday afternoon's second free practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  35. 06:51

    Follow second practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  36. Renault hopes to run Magnussen in FP2 04:59

    Renault hopes to run Magnussen in FP2

    Renault is hopeful of fielding Kevin Magnussen during Friday afternoon's second practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix…

    F1
  37. 04:36

    Malaysian Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  38. Rosberg comfortably tops FP1 at Sepang 04:35

    Rosberg comfortably tops FP1 at Sepang

    Nico Rosberg comfortably topped the timesheets during Friday morning's opening free practice session for the Malaysian Grand…

    F1
  39. First practice red flagged after Magnussen fire 03:38

    First practice red flagged after Magnussen fire

    Friday's first practice session for the Malaysian Grand Prix was red flagged after Kevin Magnussen's car caught fire in the pit…

    F1
  40. 02:52

    Follow first practice for the Malaysian GP!

    F1
  41. Magnussen: Team-mate Palmer underrated 02:24

    Magnussen: Team-mate Palmer underrated

    Kevin Magnussen believes his reputation has been hindered by having a rookie team-mate, commenting that Jolyon Palmer is…

    F1
  42. Video of the Day: Bottas' 'My Path' - #1 01:00

    Video of the Day: Bottas' 'My Path' - #1

    Valtteri Bottas begins his 'My Path' series which tells his story of becoming a Formula 1 driver with Williams.

    F1
more news