Pirelli’s Paul Hembery: “We can’t wait to get going on track”


Paul Hembery spoke to TCF at ASI about his hopes for the 2017 Formula 1 season - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery is far from worried about the new-for-2017 compounds, and admits he is interested to see just how the racing unfolds this season.

Speaking to The Checkered Flag at the Autosport International Show, Hembery revealed all of the work that has been done to make sure the tyres are at the required level, both in the factory and on track with the mule cars provided by the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing.

Pirelli are introducing wider tyres to Formula 1 in 2017, with the front tyres growing from 245mm to 305mm, and the rears growing to 405mm from 325mm, and although the mule cars look set to not be as fast as the predicted 2017 machines, Hembery believes there are no expected issues.

“People keep saying that word to me, trepidation, but absolutely not, we are in the wrong job if we were worried,” said Hembery to The Checkered Flag.  “Interested, I think, is the real word. 

“We have a lot of data from the teams to start the project, so we’ve done a lot of simulation work internally, and bench testing, particularly with the structure and integrity, and we had the three mule cars that the top teams thankfully created for us to do some initial screening.  

“Of course, those cars are probably five seconds slower than the cars we are going to see at the start of the season, and we need to understand if the simulation data we were given actually replicates the reality.  That’s the interest, we can’t wait to get going on track and see these new cars.”

Hembery believes that the fans will enjoy the look of the 2017 Formula 1 cars, feeling they will look more aggressive than in recent years, and combined with the wider tyres will be more pleasing on the eye.

“No worries, yet, ask me again after the first few races, but worries, no, we’re very excited,” said Hembery. “We think its a great change for Formula 1, its a visual change I think the fans are going to love.

“Just putting the wider tyres on last years cars, was certainly universally liked. A lot of people loved it and I think when you see it combined with the new design, the new aero package of the car, I think you’ll see a very aggressive-looking Formula 1 for 2017.”

Pirelli’s wider tyres, which will be used in 2017 – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Hembery revealed that the main tasks set by the establishment for the 2017 season was to reduce the degradation and thermal sensitivity of each compound, and he believes they have done what was asked. He also feels that there should be more overtaking in the sport should teams have similar performance differences.

“What we were asked to do this time was to reduce the degradation and thermal sensitivity of the tyres and from testing,” said Hembery, “and it feels we are in the right ball park for that. 

“If the aero has worked, in the sense of reducing the wake or disturbance of airflow over the rear of the car, which obviously then affects the car that’s following it.  If that’s worked, it should mean drivers should be able to push harder and take on some more aggressive overtaking manoeuvres. 

“To achieve that of course you need the performance of the cars to be relatively in-line, you don’t want big gaps between the car performances.  Will we have more overtaking? Yes, if the car performance differences aren’t dramatic.”

Hembery believes that taking the Ultrasoft tyre to the Australian Grand Prix for the first time will work, feeling the track itself is not that aggressive on the tyres, especially coupled with the lower degradation of the 2017 compounds.

“We’ve had the tendency over the last couple of years to do less stops, and on some less degradation, so I think you’ll find that trend will continue in 2017,” admitted Hembery.

“It’s not that aggressive track, it’s a park/street circuit, and the new generation compounds are lower degradation, lower wear, so that should work fine for Australia.”