Hembery: 2012 Field Probably Highest Quality Ever

JThe scene could be set for the most competitive season in F1 history, according to Pirelli’s Paul Hembery. He is referring to the fact that six world champions – Kimi Raikkonen, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button and Michael Schumacher – will be on the Melbourne grid in March, making up a quarter of the entire 24-car field.

“That is probably the highest level (of quality in F1) ever,” Hembery is quoted as saying by Finland’s Turun Sanomat, “particularly when you take into account that there are a lot of other very talented drivers who haven’t won a title. If the level of the cars and the performance levels (of the drivers) are just as high, there will be some astonishingly good races.”

Hembery was coy, however, when asked specifically about Raikkonen, the returning 2007 champion.

“I have met him twice,” he said. “He is a quiet guy and, anyway, we strive to keep our distance. The drivers turn to us when they need something.”

He did not give anything away about Raikkonen’s first taste of life on Pirelli rubber, after the Finn’s Valencia test this week on demonstration tyres.

“We didn’t monitor it at all, it was Lotus’ thing alone,” he insisted. “Of course I saw his comments and it will be a big difference for him now compared to what he has known before.

“But Kimi is one of the most extraordinary drivers the sport has seen so I think he will learn quickly.”