For all the talk about DRS and KERS, the greatest single contribution to this year's spectacular Formula 1 season has come from Pirelli. Different pitstop strategies have created fascinating scenarios as races have unfolded, with passing encouraged by the fact that cars might be running on tyres of widely varying age and performance at a particular stage of the race.
Anyone who had doubts about Pirelli's ability to get the job done has been forced to admit that there has been no repeat of the erratic performance seen the last time the Italian company was involved at the top level, some 20 years ago.
The new Pirelli is a slick, professional operation, overseen by Briton Paul Hembery. He has quickly become the face and voice of the supplier, the man who deals with the teams and media and who is not shy about putting his company's point of view across. And he's as efficient at doing that as his tyres have been on track.
"It's been a fast learning curve, that's for sure," Hembery says of the first half of the season. "We've had a good mix of circuits: street circuits, very aggressive circuits like Sepang, circuits that are tough on the structure of the tyre like Istanbul, hot weather, wet weather... So I think we've had a good workout! I'll only be really happy when we finish the season in Brazil, and we can say we've done our job. But so far, so good."
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