Q&A with Pirelli's Hembrey Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembrey shares his thoughts on the Italian tire manufacturer's start to the Championship.
Q: Paul, how do you think Pirelli has done so far after the first three races?
PH: "The most important thing is that we've fulfilled our brief, which was to help promote overtaking and proper racing through the use of deliberate tire degradation and an increased number of pit stops. We've had three absolutely thrilling races so far, where the outcome often wasn't decided until the very closing laps.
"We've also seen wheel to wheel racing, which has given some of the sport's most talented drivers the opportunity to really showcase their talents. What's interesting too is that we've had all these very spectacular races without seeing any rain during the races.
"In the past, we've heard some people hoping for rain, but now I think that we've seen we don't need rain to have a captivating race."
Q: Would you say that the tires have performed better than you expected?
PH: "On the whole I would say that the tires have performed as we expected, but having said that, no amount of testing could have fully prepared us for the reality of 24 of the best cars and drivers in the world racing as hard as they can around circuits that we've never seen before.
"While we were dealing with several unknown parameters, we've accurately predicted the likely number of pit stops during the races so far, which is a sign that all the preparation and testing work we carried out was in the right ballpark. But our work doesn't stop here: we're constantly looking at innovations to improve the tires, which is why we will occasionally be testing different compounds during Friday practice this year. In Turkey, for example, we will be testing a new super-hard compound on Friday that might be used for Barcelona."
Q: What's been your biggest challenge?
PH: "First and foremost, time. We had our agreement confirmed in June last year, and our first test tires were running in August. Exactly four months later we were running with all the teams at the first official test following last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Then, four months later, we started our first race. I don't think many other companies would have been able to do what we did, starting from scratch with a completely different philosophy to what had come before.
"The other challenge, away from the track, has been to communicate clearly to people what we are doing. Our Formula 1 tires are deliberately designed to last for around 100 kilometers in order to achieve our objectives, whereas our Ultra High Performance road car tires are obviously a completely different product, delivering peak performance for several thousand kilometers. Getting that point across has also been a key challenge."
Q: What's in store for the rest of the season?
PH: More of the same, we all hope! It's hard to imagine how we could have competition that is a lot more exciting than what we've seen so far: we want to keep giving racing back to the racers.
"Alongside our program for this year, we're running a parallel test program to develop innovations for the future, as we continue to collaborate with all the teams and organizing bodies to provide Formula 1 with a thrilling and exciting future. There are some very exciting ideas in the pipeline, so I'm confident that the sport will only go from strength to strength in the future." Source: Pirelli