In an exclusive interview to us, Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director, shares his thoughts on the controversial image surrounding the brand Pirelli, and whether it affects their future in Formula 1, and also whether it's affecting their road car sales. We also asked him about the topic of rival manufacturers in Formula 1, and which regions does Pirelli prefer to succeed to boost their marketing. Find out what Pirelli plans to do for the 2014 season, and if there will be any radical changes to the tyres, to accommodate the new powerful engines.
Q1) You have introduced the soft tyres for the first time in this race, so how does it affect the strategies?
A1) Yeah I mean, towards the year we have seen that the softer this year is quite an aggressive compound, so whilst the medium tyre is the more durable compound, We think that the soft will hopefully take us to a two stop race and that’s what we are trying to do. We will see of course over the course of the next session (The Interview was taken between the two FP sessions), whether that is going to happen or not, but certainly the medium was performing as we expected to this morning, we expect it to do the 50% of the race.
Q2) You were talking about the test, you were supposed to do a test with McLaren. That didn’t go according to the plans. So will we see that test happening at some other place at some other time?
A2) Well, Yes, it is looking like it will happen in Vallelunga.
Q3) Does your controversial image in F1 affect your road sales? And does this image affect your long term future in Formula 1?
A3) Well, We were asked obviously to try and put races in two or three stops, and that’s something we are doing. This year we are very much in line with that expectation. We had some issues which we had to deal with, we can’t deny that. But we felt that we have worked hard to put that right. But still we had some really stimulating races despite again a very strong showing, a very dominant showing from Red Bull particularly in the latter part of the season where they’ve made some really substantial developments. But as I said, we saw up until the mid season, some very exciting and different races.
Q4) Will it be a better to beat a rival tyre supplier on track?
A4) Yes and no. I mean Teams don’t want it. We can’t ask for what we want. When you are competing, and If you (are) winning (it) is great, but that is always due to the driver and the car. If you are losing, it is always your fault as a tyre supplier. So its often very hard to communicate that you have done a good job. If one person becomes dominant, the other tyre suppliers goes away anyway and most of the teams will try and eliminate the variation of the tyre supplier because they don’t control it. They control the engine, they control the aero, but they don’t control the tyres.
Q5) As a tyre supplier, How is F1 different from other motorsports? You supply tyres for a lot of series.
A5) Yeah, We are involved in 250 sports series around the world in 54 countries, so we have a very broad motorsports exposure. In F1 its is a bit more demanding, because the limits are higher, the requirements are higher, the rate of development is particularly higher than any other series in the world. The improvements in performance are dramatic. So it is a moving target.
Q6) Every team has some priority markets, where they want to show better results. So as a tyre supplier, Do you also have such preferential markets?
A6) Well most people in Formula 1 will like to grow more in Asia, in particular, and it’s looking like that. We are going to Russia, we are going back to USA. It’s still a little bit too heavily biased towards the European market, so an eventual move from that market is something we’ll like to see as a business.
Q7) With new regulations coming in, How will you be changing the tyres? Earlier you wanted to increase the tyre of the rear tyres, but teams didn’t agree to it. So with the same tyre size, what all changes will you make to the tyres to suit the car?
A7) Yeah we made a proposal, then took the data from the teams and we had to achieve the same tyre size. There’s a lot of unknown for everybody. You know we will see car with lot a more torque, lot more wheel spin that can create obviously overheating and wear from the tyre. But there is less downforce, people just say go for harder tyre, it’s not that simple, it’s much more complex. You can provide tyres which will spin more, so you still gotta provide grip from tyres itself. So that’s something, we won’t probably get to know until we get to Jerez and Bahrain in early next season. But as attendance, we know, we need to go to tyres that are more mechanically robust in terms of compounding, and also reduce the marbles. So those are the targets we’ve got and are working as well on the rain tyre to bring the performance close to the intermediate tyres. We have a gap between the use of intermediate and rain which makes its difficult to operate, so that’s something else we are working on.