Paul Hembery: ,,Formula One does many things well, but the real change is needed”

The Pirelli  made the Formula 1 more exciting, when it became the official tyre supplier in 2011. But who was behind the success? Let’s read the article, and you will find it out!


People know you as „Pirelli man”, beacuse you were the Pirelli Motorsport Director. But please tell me, how did your career start? How did you get in touch with motorsport?

I started as a development engineer, working on developments for car manufacturers. At a certain point during my career I was asked if as a British guy I was interested in motorsport and of course the answer to that was yes. I was then asked if I would like to take over the running of the motorsport company and to transform it into the international renowned business you see now.

You were „The” tyre wizard during the years. But please tell me, what was your job? What was the challenge for you in it?

I’m not sure I’m really a tyre wizard but I did an extremely wide and deep understanding of the business. The role was quite wide ranging because we had to work on all aspects of the business from design and development, research, production, quality, marketing, sales, communication. It was really a business within a business. The big challenge was taking the activity from an underperforming unit through to the world class operation you have seen in the last years. It is of course pleasing to see all of that work is being continued by the current team and I’m really happy to see that. The biggest challenge was getting into Formula One in record time. We had only 10 months essentially to create a product, factory team and logistics operation. It was an incredible effort by all of the people involved and a great credit to all of them.

As we see, the Formula 2 started to use new, 18 inches tyres this year, the Formula 1 will follow it later. The previous tyre size was good for these formula cars. But what do yo think, why did they change? What is the main idea of the change?

The change to 18 inches rim size is driven by marketing. It is bringing the tyre size used in Formula One closer to the road car application. Personally, I rather liked the 13 inches rim size with the wider tyre that was introduced a number of years ago. It allowed Formula One to differentiate itself away from all other forms of motorsport that have been using 18 inches tyres for at least 30 years. Maybe it is a move towards 20 inches rim size to be closer to higher performance road cars today. It is a big change for Formula One of course but not for motorsport in general.

The motorsport become greener and greener. You are an experienced motorsport member. How would you improve the motorsport on this way?

There had been a lot of efforts to improve the ecological credentials of motorsport in recent years. From series such as all electric cars but also the use of hybrid technology that you see in Formula One today. One of the big areas that motorsport can work on in the future if it is not to go fully electric, will be in the use of bio fuels and indeed Formula One is currently looking at such a development for the future. This is very interesting because it can have a very strong impact on the current cars which would mean we can make existing internal combustion engines more ecologically, faster than we convert everyone to an electric or hydrogen cell car.

What do you do? What is your current work after the „F1 project”?

I have a number of personal businesses that I follow plus some advisory work within the automotive industry.

The Formula 1 change the regulations, beacuse they want to decrease the difference between formula cars and road cars. How do you feel, is it possible to do it? And does they reach their goal?

This is very hard to do in a genuine authentic way. However, Formula One drives technology in a very advanced manner. Sometimes the marketing of the technology is not as strong as it should be for example the incredible efficiency of the current power unit is quite extra ordinary but very few people know it. When I previously mentioned biofuels would be a breakthrough technology that could genuinely assist the reduction of emissions for existing internal combustion engine cars. That would be something very exciting for Formula One to achieve.

You had chances to travel around the world by your job. What are your experiences about Hungary and the Hungarian motorsport?

The Hungarian Formula One is one of the really fantastic races. Of course, it helps that Budapest is such a beautiful city but what makes it special is the warmth and passion of the crowd.

We see how is the Formula 1 going now. What do you think, what is the weakness of the king category? What should they improve? 

Formula One does many things well. But the real change is needed, to make the drivers more important than the race results. The most exciting races or situations tend to occur when there are multiple safety cars or it is raining. So, my dream as a fan is to crown the drivers as kings!



Source: Paul Hembery, Pirelli


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