Trulli and Monaco - Toyotas best chance yet of a first Formula One win? 18 May 2005
So far this year Toyota have scored a third place and two seconds. Could this weekends Monaco Grand see the Japanese team take that elusive maiden win? We take a look at why, with Jarno Trulli in the cockpit, the answer may just be yes
For Jarno Trulli there are certain to be strong emotions as he lines up on the grid for his first Monaco Grand Prix since he took his maiden victory here last year.
It was a win made all the more remarkable by the Ferrari redwash of the season that was already well underway - with Michael Schumacher having taken victory in the first five races of the year. Yet at Monaco, Trullis remarkable pace in the Renault was apparent for all to see, taking a commanding pole position as Schumacher was left only fourth on the grid.
But Monacos chequered flag was also where Trullis 2004 season started to unravel. His pace and consistency suffered as the year went on and he fell out publicly with Renault boss Flavio Briatore. Trulli even suffered the indignity of being replaced for the closing races by Jacques Villeneuve, before compatriot Giancarlo Fisichella went on to claim his Renault seat for 2005.
But with a new team, Toyota, plus new-found confidence the Italian ace will be returning to Monte Carlo with high hopes for a second victory. It could well happen -
Trulli has already demonstrated that hes exactly the sort of driver who, in the past, has come to dominate the unique demands of the race at Monaco.
He should certainly find he has the machinery for the task in hand. The Toyota TF105 has already proved to have impressive pace this season, and Monaco is a circuit where driver skill carries a substantial premium over raw horsepower or the sort of aerodynamic tweaks that dominate at higher speed races.
And Trullis developing maturity is also making itself increasingly obvious on-track: hes currently second in the drivers championship after his gutsy, determined drive from 5th on the grid to a well-deserved third-place at Barcelona a fortnight ago.
Trullis ultra-precise performance at Monaco last year has also persuaded many that hes got the measure of the notoriously demanding track. The twisty street circuit puts a real premium on a drivers accuracy and feel - far more so than his commitment, bravado or even raw car control.
It rewards one-lap specialists (and has even been described as 78 single laps back-to-back). Ayrton Senna, statistically still the greatest qualifying driver of all time, won here no fewer than six times during his career. The only current driver to have made the circuit his own is Michael Schumacher, whose tally of victories here currently stands at five - but if the Ferrari F2005 proves to be off the pace again then Trulli may well find himself the favourite.
All the ingredients are in place for a Toyota win - what can Trulli make of them?