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 29 May 2015

  2. 12:24

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Ecclestone sets Indian GP deadline 11:30

    Ecclestone sets Indian GP deadline

    Bernie Ecclestone has set a two month deadline for Indian Grand Prix organisers to get the event back on the calendar for the…

    F1
  4. Video: Force India drivers quizzed 10:23

    Video: Force India drivers quizzed

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez are quizzed on how well they know each other.

    F1
  5. Dovizioso tops first Mugello practice 09:58

    Dovizioso tops first Mugello practice

    Andrea Dovizioso and Ducati topped the times as their home Grand Prix weekend at Mugello got underway on Friday…

    MotoGP
  6. Bottas sure Monaco showing a one-off 08:02

    Bottas sure Monaco showing a one-off

    Valtteri Bottas is sure that his Williams team will return to form at the Canadian Grand Prix, after a highly challenging…

    F1
  7. Video of the Day: McLaren in Monaco 05:26

    Video of the Day: McLaren in Monaco

    McLaren celebrated the 10th year of its Johnnie Walker partnership with a special night out in Monaco.

    F1
  8. Thursday 28 May 2015

  9. FIA opens selection process for new team 21:04

    FIA opens selection process for new team

    Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has officially opened up a new selection process to identify a candidate team to join the…

    F1
  10. Video: Drivers preview 'Dual in Detroit' 14:44

    Video: Drivers preview 'Dual in Detroit'

    Hélio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud preview the 2015 'Dual in Detroit'.

    Indy
  11. Todt: No ban on alcohol sponsorship 12:36

    Todt: No ban on alcohol sponsorship

    FIA President Jean Todt has made clear that there will be no ban on alcohol sponsorship in Formula 1, describing such a move as…

    F1
  12. Jos Verstappen to join Max in F1 demo 11:24

    Jos Verstappen to join Max in F1 demo

    Max Verstappen will be joined on track by father Jos during next month's 'Italia a Zandvoort' event. While Max demonstrates a…

    F1
  13. Räikkönen given qualifying 'homework' 10:33

    Räikkönen given qualifying 'homework'

    Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene has urged Kimi Räikkönen to improve his qualifying performances at future Grands Prix…

    F1
  14. González, Vautier get Detroit seats 09:51

    González, Vautier get Detroit seats

    Rodolfo González and Tristan Vautier will reclaim seats at the Dale Coyne Racing squad for this weekend's IndyCar double-header…

    Indy
  15. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Monaco 09:48

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Monaco

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

    F1
  16. Magnussen: Vandoorne deserves F1 seat 09:07

    Magnussen: Vandoorne deserves F1 seat

    McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen says there would be "something wrong" if GP2 championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne does not…

    F1
  17. Video of the Day: Brundle's Force India drive 05:00

    Video of the Day: Brundle's Force India drive

    Ex-F1 driver turned TV pundit Martin Brundle tests – and crashes – the Force India VJM08 at Silverstone.

    F1
  18. Wednesday 27 May 2015

  19. Hinchcliffe released from hospital 16:48

    Hinchcliffe released from hospital

    James Hinchcliffe was released from hospital on Tuesday, following surgery for the injuries he sustained during practice for the…

    Indy
  20. Wilson to make FE debut in Moscow 15:33

    Wilson to make FE debut in Moscow

    Justin Wilson will make his Formula E debut with Andretti Autosport at next month's Moscow round. Wilson competed in last…

    FE
  21. Grosjean 'didn't brake test' Verstappen 14:39

    Grosjean 'didn't brake test' Verstappen

    Lotus says it has data to prove that Romain Grosjean did not brake test Toro Rosso rival Max Verstappen prior to their collision…

    F1
  22. Video: Nico Rosberg's Monaco blog 14:16

    Video: Nico Rosberg's Monaco blog

    Nico Rosberg reflects on a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix that yielded his third straight win in the principality.

    F1
  23. Mallya targets constant points with new car 12:28

    Mallya targets constant points with new car

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya has set his sights on recording constant points finishes when the outfit's full 2015…

    F1
  24. Verstappen vows to come back stronger 10:51

    Verstappen vows to come back stronger

    Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen says he will emerge a stronger driver from his dramatic accident at last weekend's Monaco Grand…

    F1
  25. Rossi in 'perfect' place for Mugello 10:35

    Rossi in 'perfect' place for Mugello

    MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi says he arrives at Mugello in a "perfect" frame of mind after his strong start to the…

    MotoGP
  26. 10:15

    Gallery: Best photos from the Monaco GP

    F1
  27. Häkkinen: Verstappen penalty unfair 10:12

    Häkkinen: Verstappen penalty unfair

    Mika Häkkinen believes that it was wrong of the stewards to hand Max Verstappen a grid penalty for his clash with Romain…

    F1
  28. Ecclestone: Rosberg, Vettel 'bad for business' 09:43

    Ecclestone: Rosberg, Vettel 'bad for business'

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that German drivers Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel are "not so good" for the…

    F1
  29. Feature: Monaco GP's key questions 09:27

    Feature: Monaco GP's key questions

    In the build up to last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, GPUpdate.net posed five key questions and contemplated the potential…

    F1
  30. Video of the Day: Berlin ePrix highlights 05:00

    Video of the Day: Berlin ePrix highlights

    Watch highlights from the eighth round of the Formula E championship at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport.

    FE
  31. Tuesday 26 May 2015

  32. Scan reveals further Iannone injury 19:11

    Scan reveals further Iannone injury

    Ducati's Andrea Iannone has had another set back ahead of his home race in Italy this weekend after a scan revealed a further…

    MotoGP
  33. Daly to replace Hinchcliffe for Detroit 14:18

    Daly to replace Hinchcliffe for Detroit

    Conor Daly will remain in IndyCar after Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed that he will replace the injured James…

    Indy
  34. Briatore: Alonso better off at McLaren 13:31

    Briatore: Alonso better off at McLaren

    Flavio Briatore says Fernando Alonso is better placed at McLaren compared to Ferrari, despite the Spaniard having failed to…

    F1
  35. No further action in de Villota accident 11:29

    No further action in de Villota accident

    Manor Grand Prix Racing will face no further action over the testing crash involving Maria de Villota following the conclusion…

    F1
  36. Williams cannot repeat Monaco - Smedley 11:08

    Williams cannot repeat Monaco - Smedley

    Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley says the squad must examine where it went wrong at the Monaco Grand Prix in…

    F1
  37. Arrivabene: Ferrari outsmarted Mercedes 09:49

    Arrivabene: Ferrari outsmarted Mercedes

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene says the squad outsmarted Mercedes strategically in order to collect second position…

    F1
  38. Monaco Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 08:56

    Monaco Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Nico Rosberg took a third straight Monaco win as dominant Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton was skewered by an incorrect pit…

    F1
  39. Video of the Day: Red Bull's Energy Station 05:23

    Video of the Day: Red Bull's Energy Station

    Find out more about Red Bull's floating Energy Station, which it brought to the Monaco Grand Prix.

    F1
  40. Monday 25 May 2015

  41. Montoya: First Indy 500 win was easier 15:45

    Montoya: First Indy 500 win was easier

    Juan Pablo Montoya described his first Indianapolis 500 win as "easy" compared to his victory at the 99th running of the…

    Indy
  42. Video: Max drives Jos around Monaco 14:27

    Video: Max drives Jos around Monaco

    Watch as Max Verstappen takes father Jos for a lap of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit in a Renault Clio.

    F1
  43. Smith, Espargaró set for Suzuka 8 Hours 13:42

    Smith, Espargaró set for Suzuka 8 Hours

    MotoGP team-mates Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró will form part of the rider line-up for the factory Yamaha team at this…

    MotoGP
  44. Rosberg still thought Hamilton would win 11:52

    Rosberg still thought Hamilton would win

    Nico Rosberg has explained that he still thought Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton would win the Monaco Grand Prix despite his…

    F1
more news