Drivers need to be 'kings' again, says ex-Pirelli F1 boss

Pirelli's former Formula 1 boss Paul Hembery says the sport should consider a future where 1500bhp cars help make the drivers "kings".

Drivers need to be 'kings' again, says ex-Pirelli F1 boss

As Pirelli's then motorsport director, Hembery helped guide the Italian company's return to F1 in 2011, and he moved to a new role as the CEO of its LatAm operations in 2017.

Having recently parted ways with the company after more than 25 years of service, he is now looking at fresh opportunities to stay involved in the sport – and has his own ideas of where F1 should go.

"What really needs to happen is that the drivers need to become the kings of the sport," Hembery told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview.

"They need to become the superstars because people today are very much personality-focused.

"We often talk about exciting racing when there has been rain or safety car with 10 laps to go and and that is a message.

"We need unpredictability, or the concentration of vehicles when there is a safety car allowing people to race flat out. That is where the work needs to be."

Asked about what his vision for F1 would be if he started from a blank sheet of paper, Hembery said: "I think it would be simplified in the sense that power is relatively cheap to get and provides a greater challenge for the drivers. So why not have 1500bhp engines?

"That may not equate to what the car manufacturers might want in their desire to sell or market technology, but horse racing is still popular despite the arrival of the car.

"F1 could be the escapism. That is where my blank sheet would go: trying to put more money to the drivers, so a super F2 with huge power, less technology and hopefully ten teams that are profitable and have viable businesses."

Hembery is clear that F1's owner Liberty Media should be more forceful in standing up for change it wants to see, rather than trying to appease all the sport's stakeholders.

"You won't please everybody," he said. "Whatever you say or do, there will be someone saying something negative, and that is where you need to have a strong vision.

"That is the challenge for the owners of the sport now, describing that vision, believing in it and going forward. You may decide to do nothing but then you have a real risk of a gradual decline."

Speaking about his own situation, Hembery said he was working on projects outside of motor racing, but still had an interest in remaining involved with the sport.

"I left Pirelli at the end of last year," he said. "All good things come to an end, and it was the right time for both of us to go different ways.

"Now I am working on a few projects that I have had going for quite some time but haven't been able to dedicate myself to. They are nothing to do with racing nor automotive, but I am still looking to see if I can offer something back to motorsport.

"It has been well over 20 years I have been involved in all forms and all levels, and I feel that I have something to offer. So if the right opportunity came up and somebody feels I can contribute then I would consider it."

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari receives the Pirelli Pole Position award from Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari receives the Pirelli Pole Position award from Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director

Photo by: Glenn Dunbar / LAT Images

shares
comments
Red Bull adds Toyota Racing Series champ to junior team

Previous article

Red Bull adds Toyota Racing Series champ to junior team

Next article

Renault "concerned" by lack of 2021 F1 rules progress

Renault "concerned" by lack of 2021 F1 rules progress
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Author Jonathan Noble
How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean? Prime

How long can Verstappen and Hamilton keep it clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But how long will their battle remain clean? Jonathan Noble ponders that exact point

Formula 1
May 13, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Prime

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Prime

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Prime

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button.

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Prime

How Red Bull's deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace Prime

The Barcelona practice times that prove Red Bull has hidden pace

Lewis Hamilton led the way in Friday practice for the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix, but there was one major encouraging sign for Red Bull. However, making good on that gain will require Max Verstappen to avoid repeating a mistake that left him well down the FP2 order...

Formula 1
May 7, 2021
Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place Prime

Why McLaren doesn’t doubt Ricciardo can escape his ‘dark’ place

Three points finishes from as many starts represents a decent opening innings on paper, but Daniel Ricciardo has endured a tough start to his McLaren career - only magnified his teammate's excellent form. Yet both he and the team have good reason to expect a turnaround soon.

Formula 1
May 6, 2021
What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors Prime

What needs to “change” for Red Bull is ending Verstappen’s errors

OPINION: Going up against the dominant force of Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton was always going to demand the best from Red Bull and Max Verstappen. But after making a couple more errors during the Portuguese Grand Prix, the Dutch driver showed there's a small gap he still needs to close in the 2021 Formula 1 title fight.

Formula 1
May 5, 2021