Renault winner come Toyota star in bullish mood
A maiden race win, two pole positions, then he leaves the third most successful team of the year to go to the eighth Jarno Trullis 2004 has been eventful to say the least. The Italian reflects on his early season success, on his first two races with Toyota and on his and the Japanese teams prospects for 2005 and beyond.
Q: What were your thoughts heading into the Brazilian Grand Prix, your second race for Toyota?
Jarno Trulli: I was quite confident that we would enjoy a better race weekend in Brazil after my race debut for Toyota in Suzuka. The Japanese Grand Prix was a weekend of learning all about my new team and understanding more about the TF104B. In Brazil, we were able to get a lot of laps completed in free practice, which enabled us to set the car up well.
Q: What were your impressions of the Toyota TF104B at Interlagos?
JT: My impressions of the TF104B were pretty good initially. We had a successful weekend working well on the car in terms of balance, set-up, handling and tyre choice. I qualified in the top 10 for the second consecutive time, but the most encouraging thing from Friday and Saturday's practice sessions was our consistency over the long runs. This alone made me quite confident for the race, but we hoped that the rain would stay away.
Q: Did the mixed race conditions make it more difficult for you?
JT: The mixed weather conditions did make it difficult for us. I know that it was the same for everyone, but it was neither fully wet nor fully dry and I had no experience of the car in those conditions. I went well in the early laps, getting up as high as sixth, but I had a tough time on dry tyres when the track was still damp. As the track dried I got more competitive, but it wasn't enough to score points and 12th was the best I could do.
Q: Generally, how do you feel you have adapted to the Toyota team?
JT: To be honest, I think that I have enjoyed a trouble-free transition into the Panasonic Toyota Racing team. There are obviously a few things to be improved for next season, but generally the team has made me feel very welcome and I see a lot of potential for the upcoming years.
Q: How did the performance compare between Japan and Brazil?
JT: In the two races that I have driven for Toyota, I have had two very good qualifying sessions in which I was able to start from the top ten. Brazil, especially, was strong and I do not think I could have extracted any more from the car, which made me happy. We were also more competitive at Interlagos than Suzuka in terms of race pace.
Q: What areas need to be improved?
JT: I have noticed that there is quite a high rate of degradation, particularly at the rear of the car, and a general lack of grip, but this is something that the car has suffered from all season. Unfortunately, it is not a problem that can be solved overnight. There is a lot of work to do in the wind tunnel, to give more downforce to the car. When we have done that, the car will slide less, use the rubber less and keep the tyre temperature lower. More traction will help as well.
Q: Are you going to have a busy testing programme over the winter?
JT: Over the winter, we will be testing as much as possible to prepare for 2005. I don't honestly know at the moment what we are going to test, but it will certainly be very busy! At present, the first test will be at the end of November in Barcelona, probably alongside Ralf Schumacher.
Q: Looking back at your 2004 season, what is your overall feeling?
JT: Looking back over the season, I feel hugely positive. It has been a year in which I achieved an ambition and won my first Grand Prix. And the fact that I did it from pole position, in Monte Carlo, made it even more special. Then there was my Spa pole position as well, followed by the chance to join Toyota straight away and be quick and competitive. I couldn't have had a better season, but I am anticipating even greater things to come with Toyota.
Q: Have you had a chance to digest the new qualifying rules for 2005?
JT: I've heard that we will be doing a low fuel single lap on Saturday and then a race fuel lap on Sunday morning on race fuel levels with the times aggregated. I haven't had a serious think about it yet. We will adapt to it and it will be more predictable than it is now, I think, because on the first day everyone will run low fuel and so you will see the real potential of all the car/driver combinations. And then on the second day we won't change too much because if you run too much fuel you will qualify too far back.
Q: You've got a great reputation as a qualifier. Will your approach to the new system be just the same?
JT: My approach to the new format will be exactly the same. As a driver, we will not even think about making a mistake anymore. We were obviously aware of it in pre-qualifying this season, the fact that you did not want to risk compromising the car just for track position in the main qualifying session. But next year will be different. We'll have to push like mad in both sessions. I'm looking forward to it.