Features - Interview
SEPTEMBER 15, 2010
Jarno Trulli: We've done better than expected!
Jarno Trulli won his only Grand Prix at Monaco six years ago. Although an F1 veteran of 14 seasons, he took the Lotus Racing drive with a view to the long term. At Monza, his home race, he gave his views on the season and his hopes for the team.
Q: Do you enjoy Monza?
Yeah, when it's sunny, which thankfully it was. When it's wet I don't think many people enjoy Monza with such long straights, aquaplaning and low downforce.
Q: How did your race go?
Looking at what we were capable of doing in Canada we were reasonably optimistic going into the Monza weekend but as it's out first season it's always hard to predict how the car will be on each track. It was satisfying to claim the new teams' 'pole' and it was a very good race until the gearbox problem meant I had to stop. I lost second gear and even though I continued running without it, the 'box gave up completely and ended my race. It had been good until then -- I was pulling away from Timo Glock and the guys behind and was increasing the lead with every lap. But bad luck seems to be the story of my season - we'll go to Singapore and hope for better fortune.
Q: How difficult has the transition been from a big budget team like Toyota?
Pretty big but fortunately I have been in a small team before. It's been a difficult season, harder than expected because at times things have gone worse than I thought. Between reliability problems and a couple of my mistakes it hasn't seemed to work out. In one way I'm happy that it's all happening this year because we can hardly hope to score points, so better to have it now than next year when we will probably be fighting for points. But when you look at other new teams, we have probably done a better job than expected. I'm pretty confident for next year but obviously we had to suffer a bit this year.
Q: Has the biggest problem been reliability?
I would say I've had a lot of troubles, a lot of issues. I have a full list which I don't really want to go through! We know where the problems are but we can't fix them this year because we are supplied with certain products. Our team has professional, experienced engineers many of them involved in F1 for a long time, so they know how to solve problems. Operationally the team has strong people and we cannot judge the team on this year's results because they don't reflect our potential.
Q: Lotus Racing is currently 10th, by virtue of Heikki's 13th place in Melbourne versus Karun Chandhok's 14th for HRT. Is there a fear you might lose out to a crazy wet race somewhere where a new team rival scores a point?
There is always this possibility, unfortunately. We have to be ready and that's what we've been doing since mid-season, trying to cover everyone behind us with the strategy. We are really taking care of what's happening behind us. We don't want to finish the season behind any of the new teams just because of a crazy race. We know that we are the best and don't want to miss the only chance we might get to be in the top 10, so we have to be very careful.
Q: What do you think of a switch to the Renault engine/gearbox next year?
I know things have been going on in the background with people studying the requirements for next year's car, but I haven't been involved. Cosworth has done a good job this year so perhaps there were other issues, I don't know.
Q: Rubens has recently celebrated 300 grands prix, you're on 230, how long do you see yourself continuing in F1?
Honestly, I don't count. I'm not here to set records I'm just here to do a good job but 300 is quite a lot. The physical side is no problem for me. I'm into cycling a lot and I've been doing some competitions, so keeping fit is the least of the problem. The biggest one is trying to deliver a result before the car is ready!
Q: Who do you back to win the championship this year?
It's been a hard season to judge. I've seen a lot of mistakes and events upsetting the front runners. I think Hamilton and Webber have a good chance. Red Bull has the best car but seem to be trying everything not to deliver the best results. For Vettel and Alonso it's too late to make any more mistakes. Probably the most reliable and consistent driver has been Lewis but Sunday didn't work out for him either! Ferrari was probably sometimes fighting with not such a competitive car and so Fernando was sometimes pushing over the limit but they were obviously strong at Monza.
Q: Has Michael Schumacher shown that F1 is at a particularly high level?
I expected him to suffer at the beginning and then recover but it doesn't seem to be happening. In my opinion missing three years of F1 should affect him for the first half of the season because of the rhythm of F1, but he seems to be suffering other problems. It's hard to tell from outside. Tyres might be a good reason but I can't judge. He knows better than anyone what's missing.
Q: What is your opinion on team orders?
In my opinion this is a sport where the team counts as much as in football. It's true we have only two drivers on the track rather than 11 players but it's still about strategy and a big amount of data collection. Strategy plays an important role and it's part of this business. You cannot impede, in my opinion, team orders. True, it's a sport but it's also a business and teams are spending a lot to develop a car, to promote sponsors and to have drivers win. It's sad for fans to see what happened in Hockenheim but you can see it in other sports too. Maybe not as obviously as we saw in Germany but it's still happening. Many teams have done it before, even when we had this rule. They should let teams decide who they are going to support.
Q: What do you think of a 20-race calendar in 2011?
It's a big effort for teams and drivers but F1 is developing, so you accept it. Having the race schedule organised in a better way makes it more efficient and easier for us to work because it's not actually the races themselves which stress us, but travelling around without a proper schedule. This year is going to be a really hard end to the season. Probably the last five races will be harder than the whole season. I think once we figure out the movement schedules 20 races will be fine because we don't test anymore.