Introducing GP2 drivers to the art of tyre strategy
Q&A with Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director
Taking ultimate responsibility for all of Pirelli’s motorsport campaigns, including GP2, is the Italian firm’s motorsport director Paul Hembery. The Englishman is passionate about all forms of motorsport, having started his career as a spectator by watching the Rally Great Britain close to his home in the west of England. Having steered Pirelli’s motorsport programme for more than 10 years, Paul masterminded the Italian firm’s move into Formula One – and GP2 – in 2011.
Paul, what do you think of the GP2 season so far this year?
PH: “We’ve had some great racing, which is what it’s all about. If you look at the number of former GP2 drivers who have made it through to Formula One, this tells you all you need to know about what an excellent preparation it is for the pinnacle of motorsport. And of course we believe that the arrival of our tyres has made it even better.”
What has been Pirelli’s objectives with GP2 this year?
PH: “Since we came on board last year, our goal has been the same: to most closely mirror the tyre rules and regulations in Formula One, in order to give the drivers the best possible chance to be competitive if and when they get there. I don’t think anybody would deny that tyre strategy is an important part of Formula One, and if we can introduce the GP2 drivers to this art as soon as possible, it will stand them in good stead for the future.”
How have the latest GP2 tyre regulations helped the spectacle?
PH: “In Monaco, we saw the drivers being able to use two sets of the softer compound for the first time – in a one-off rule change – and I think they all benefitted from that as it opened up more opportunities for strategy. The other innovation that was introduced, which will remain in place for the rest of the year, was allowing all the drivers freedom to use their tyre allocation in exactly the way they want. Previously, they had to save a new set of the harder compound for the sprint race. Again, this means that the drivers have to think a little bit more about how they use their tyres, and so they learn more for the future.”
What’s next for Pirelli in GP2?
PH: “We enjoy an excellent relationship with the GP2 Series organisers, and we’re in a constant dialogue with them to discuss ways that we can improve things still further. With our involvement in the GP3 Series and Formula One as well, our aim is to create a true ladder of talent capable of taking drivers from the beginning of their international careers all the way up to the top.”