F1 tyre decision could have backfired, says Pirelli’s Hembery
Pirelli’s supply to Formula One this year has not been without the occasional controversy – Michael Schumacher’s “raw eggs” comment being just one example – but there is no arguing that it’s raised the profile of tyres within the sport. Evidence of their prominent role was seen today by those thumbing through The Sun, who would have read the headline that the “real F1 heroes are…tyre boffins.”
The newspaper opines that we should thank Pirelli, and particularly its motorsport director Paul Hembery, for saving Formula One from “another year of domination” by Sebastian Vettel and for making the series “the most unpredictable in the sport’s history.” The Sun does have a point – the introduction of Pirelli’s new tyres this year, along with rule changes, has played a role in delivering seven different winners in the opening eight races of 2012. Last year Vettel dominated the podium, winning 11 of the 19 Grands Prix.
Speaking to The Sun, Hembery said F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone is “happy” with this season’s results. Several factors have contributed to this; he admitted that changes to the FIA rules have “blocked some of the advantage” the larger teams previously enjoyed. “But we have given them another challenge,” he added. “There are a lot of people who will agree that we have brought another element to the sport. The teams asked us to inject a technical challenge to the sport too, so we had to come up with tyres that made it interesting and were safe.”
Hembery told The Sun that Pirelli’s approach “could have backfired, but fortunately it didn’t.” The Pirelli motorsport director believes the “vast majority” of Formula One participants “appreciate what we’re doing” and are “enjoying the challenge,” while spectators “are enjoying the racing.” He also commented that the “wider public are probably less interested in lap times and more interested in seeing exciting races, and not ones that are over after the first lap.”
Pirelli is already testing next season’s rubber. The tyre maker shares that for today’s two sessions, teams have been given two sets of the experimental hard tyre for next season in addition to their usual allocation. “The new tyre has a slightly wider working range, which should make it easier for the teams to get the tyres into the right operating temperature window,” said Pirelli. “This is a valuable opportunity for ourselves and all the teams to gather more information about the potential effect of a new compound, and gain some data for the future.”