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. Sunday 23 November 2014

  2. 17:54

    Latest F1 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  3. Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon' 17:52

    Alonso to confirm future plans 'very soon'

    Fernando Alonso says he will be able to announce his future plans "very soon", after completing his final race with...

    F1
  4. Stevens pleased to finish debut race 17:26

    Stevens pleased to finish debut race

    Caterham's Will Stevens says he was pleased to achieve his target of finishing his debut Formula 1 race at the Abu Dhabi...

    F1
  5. Vettel: It's been an incredible journey 16:56

    Vettel: It's been an incredible journey

    Sebastian Vettel was left to rue a disappointing end to "an incredible journey" with Red Bull at the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  6. I haven't finished yet, says Button 16:29

    I haven't finished yet, says Button

    Jenson Button says he did all he could during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to prove that he deserves to remain at McLaren in...

    F1
  7. Massa says 2014 'just the beginning' 15:58

    Massa says 2014 'just the beginning'

    Felipe Massa says the 2014 season is "just the beginning" of a more competitive period for the Williams team. Massa...

    F1
  8. Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title 15:37

    Rosberg: Hamilton deserved to win title

    Nico Rosberg says Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton deserved to beat him to the 2014 world title. Hamilton usurped...

    F1
  9. Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career 15:21

    Hamilton hails 'best start' of F1 career

    Lewis Hamilton described the start he made at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as "probably the best" of his Formula 1...

    F1
  10. 15:09

    In full: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix race result

    F1
  11. Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win 14:49

    Hamilton secures title with Abu Dhabi win

    Lewis Hamilton secured the 2014 Formula 1 title with victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, leading home Williams duo Felipe...

    F1
  12. 12:38

    Follow the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix live!

    F1
  13. 11:10

    Latest GP2 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    GP2
  14. Coletti takes final GP2 win of 2014 11:09

    Coletti takes final GP2 win of 2014

    Stefano Coletti claimed victory for Racing Engineering in the final round of the GP2 season in Abu Dhabi. Coletti assumed...

    GP2
  15. 10:52

    Revised starting grid for the Abu Dhabi GP

    F1
  16. Red Bull duo to start race from pit lane 10:51

    Red Bull duo to start race from pit lane

    Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo will start Sunday's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from the pit lane, after...

    F1
  17. FIA confirms drive-through for Grosjean 10:07

    FIA confirms drive-through for Grosjean

    The FIA has confirmed that Romain Grosjean will be forced to take a drive-through penalty within the first three laps of the...

    F1
  18. 09:34

    Latest GP3 photos: Sunday in Abu Dhabi

    GP3
  19. Niederhauser wins season-ending GP3 race 09:33

    Niederhauser wins season-ending GP3 race

    Arden's Patric Niederhauser strolled to victory in the final race of the GP3 season in Abu Dhabi. Niederhauser eased into...

    GP3
  20. Force India to present 2015 livery in Mexico 09:25

    Force India to present 2015 livery in Mexico

    Force India has revealed that it will present its 2015 livery at an event in Mexico at the end of January. It comes after...

    F1
  21. Video of the Day: World record truck jump 05:03

    Video of the Day: World record truck jump

    The Lotus Formula 1 team and partner EMC set a new truck jump world record in spectacular fashion.

    F1
  22. Saturday 22 November 2014

  23. 17:30

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  24. Red Bull drivers excluded from qualifying 17:29

    Red Bull drivers excluded from qualifying

    Red Bull duo Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo have been excluded from qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after...

    F1
  25. Red Bull referred to stewards over front wing 16:48

    Red Bull referred to stewards over front wing

    Red Bull has been referred to the stewards after governing body the FIA declared its front wing illegal at the Abu Dhabi...

    F1
  26. Alonso expects 'uphill struggle' in race 16:20

    Alonso expects 'uphill struggle' in race

    Fernando Alonso says he expects to endure an "uphill struggle" on his final appearance for Ferrari in the Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  27. 15:49

    Latest GP2 photos: Saturday in Abu Dhabi

    GP2
  28. Vandoorne dominates in Abu Dhabi win 15:48

    Vandoorne dominates in Abu Dhabi win

    McLaren youngster Stoffel Vandoorne dominated proceedings to claim his fourth victory of the season in the GP2 Feature Race...

    GP2
  29. Stevens left to rue Turn 17 mistake 15:37

    Stevens left to rue Turn 17 mistake

    Will Stevens was left to ponder what might have been after an error tarnished his final lap in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix...

    F1
  30. Bottas: Beating Ferrari remains the goal 15:22

    Bottas: Beating Ferrari remains the goal

    Valtteri Bottas says securing third in the Constructors' standings, ahead of Ferrari, remains Williams' target at the Abu...

    F1
  31. Force India confirms 'multi-year' Pérez deal 15:06

    Force India confirms 'multi-year' Pérez deal

    Force India has confirmed that Sergio Pérez will remain with the team next season and beyond, after the Mexican signed a new...

    F1
  32. Hamilton: I'm still there for the fight 14:51

    Hamilton: I'm still there for the fight

    Lewis Hamilton says he is pleased to be "there for the fight" after qualifying second for the title-deciding Abu Dhabi Grand...

    F1
  33. Rosberg: Pole just a small step towards title 14:38

    Rosberg: Pole just a small step towards title

    Nico Rosberg says pole position for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is just a "small step" towards his ultimate goal of claiming...

    F1
  34. 14:08

    In full: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying results

    F1
  35. Rosberg on pole for Abu Dhabi title decider 14:07

    Rosberg on pole for Abu Dhabi title decider

    Nico Rosberg stormed to pole position during Saturday evening's qualifying session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, comfortably...

    F1
  36. Van der Garde leaves Abu Dhabi early 13:31

    Van der Garde leaves Abu Dhabi early

    Sauber reserve driver Giedo van der Garde has left the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix prematurely due to the team contravening the...

    F1
  37. 12:45

    Follow qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

    F1
  38. Horner eyes new F1 engines for 2016 12:11

    Horner eyes new F1 engines for 2016

    Mercedes' rivals are eyeing significant changes to the power unit regulations if the German manufacturer refuses to agree on...

    F1
  39. 11:08

    Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Free Practice 3 results

    F1
  40. Rosberg moves ahead in final practice 11:05

    Rosberg moves ahead in final practice

    Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets during Saturday afternoon's final practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, moving...

    F1
  41. 09:46

    Follow FP3 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

    F1
  42. 08:42

    Latest GP3 photos: Saturday in Abu Dhabi

    GP3
more news