Paul Hembery believes the decision by Red Bull Racing to use the Supersoft Pirelli compound during qualifying for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix made the race more exciting, especially when Max Verstappen was able to make his set last for twenty one laps on Sunday.
Verstappen spun at the first turn after a touch from Nico Hülkenberg, but was able to put himself back into contention for a podium finish by running long on the Supersoft tyre before making his one and only pit stop for the Soft tyre.
The Dutchman would go on to lose the podium finish when Sebastian Vettel used the Supersoft tyre himself in the closing stages, but it was the use of the Supersoft that Pirelli Motorsport Director Hembery felt was ‘pivotal’ in Abu Dhabi on the race result.
“The decision taken by Red Bull yesterday to start on the Supersoft was pivotal to the race today, with Max Verstappen making the most of a creative one-stop strategy to challenge the two-stoppers,” said Hembery.
“Sebastian Vettel also capitalised on the performance of the Supersoft to move up in the closing stages.”
Hembery admits that Pirelli’s attention is now purely on 2017 and the introduction of the wider tyres, with the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, Scuderia Ferrari and Red Bull Racing all set to test this week in Abu Dhabi with their mule cars that continue to represent downforce levels expected to be seen next season.
“Now that the 2016 season is over, our focus already switches to next year – starting on Tuesday, when we undertake our final development test for the new 2017 wider tyres, using all three mule cars together for the first time,” said Hembery.
Hembery paid tribute to Nico Rosberg for clinching his maiden World Championship in Abu Dhabi, and also praise both Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, who participated in their final Grand Prix before retirement on Sunday.
“Congratulations to Nico Rosberg for winning his first world title, and we’d also like to take the opportunity to pay tribute to Felipe Massa and Jenson Button, who both ended their fantastic Formula 1 careers today,” added Hembery.