Q & A with Pirelli's Paul Hembery
|By David Evans||Tuesday, February 27th 2007, 15:11 GMT|
Q. What was this morning like?
Paul Hembery, Pirelli motorsport director: Actually, it was like sitting outside my schoolmaster's office waiting for my exam results! It was pretty stressful, we came here with two press releases written - which shows how close the whole thing was.
Q. Who told you you'd won?
PH: A legal representative from the federation came out and told us the World Council had voted in our favour. Obviously, we were delighted. We've put a great deal of work into the bid and we've come out with the right result.
Pirelli has a very long history in the world championship. It's been more than 30 years since our first WRC victory with Jean Todt and Achim Warmbold, but that's what we're about: we're about passion for the WRC.
Q. What now?
PH: Well, we've started work on the product for next year already. It was a big gamble, but we had to do it. We knew about the volume involved with this deal and we knew we had to get started, so we're already on the road. We have already made some big investments in industry and we will be continuing to do so.
Q. Does this have any impact on a 2007 programme?
PH: Not really. It's very early to say. We will support Gigi [Galli] to keep the Italian flag flying for the Italian company, but I'm not sure there's benefit in us doing any more than that.
Obviously, we're not going to be running any of the tyres before the FIA is ready for us to do so – and no team will get anything before any other team. The impartiality side of this is uppermost in everybody's mind.
Q. Does that concern you?
PH: No. I realise that there may be some people saying that this deal favours Subaru because Subaru ran with us for so long, but that's nonsense. The guys at Subaru won't recognise the tyres when they see them for the first time.
Q. They'll be that different?
PH: Absolutely. When you think we have to go to a rally with one tyre suited for all conditions, that tyre's going to be different. In Turkey, for example, we have to run with a tyre which can cope with stuff like snow on the side of the road in the mountains, to 40-degree heat and then a complete washout. The WRC is about extremes, it's always been that way and that's what makes it so special.
Q. What does this mean to Pirelli?
PH: We put a lot of effort into making ours the most attractive bid, but it wouldn't have been the end of the world if the decision hadn't gone our way. Having said that, you don't do the kind of work we did for this and then say: "Oh well, we didn't really want it..." if we didn't get it.
It's fantastic. It's a victory in terms of the deal, but that's really the only time you get to talk about victory. With a control tyre you drink champagne when you win the deal and probably not again – we'll win every rally next year because ours is the only tyre. It's quite fitting; this year, Pirelli celebrates 100 years of competition.