Italian eyeing podium finish at home race at Monza
He came away from Istanbul with a well-deserved sixth place, but unlike most of his contemporaries, he did not seem totally enamoured with the new circuit. Having had a few days to reflect, Jarno Trulli talked Turkey - and Italy - with Toyotas press office.
Q: What were your impressions of Istanbul?
JT: First of all, I think it's good for Formula One to come to new countries. Grand Prix racing has grown hugely in the past 10 to 20 years and there's practically nowhere that isn't aware of F1. I think Bernie Ecclestone has done a tremendous job in that respect.
Q: Did you get a chance to see any of Istanbul itself?
JT: Unfortunately not. I did not fly in very much before the race because I was taking advantage of Formula One's summer break to spend some time with my family. But by all accounts it is a very interesting place and I hope to see a bit more of it next year.
Q: Some said Istanbul Park is on a par with Formula One's best tracks. Do you agree?
JT: It is interesting, well laid-out and well-executed but I found it quite simple to learn and to drive. It was quite flat in terms of performance and doing a good lap time there is more down to the car than the driver. I like circuits where the driver has a bigger part to play in the performance equation.
Q: But everyone seemed to agree that Turn 8 was very challenging?
JT: It's challenging but it can't be taken flat-out. There are actually three or four bumps all the way round, at every apex actually, and you have to fight the car quite a bit. We saw quite a few incidents there in practice and qualifying and you do need all your downforce to be quick through there. If anything compromises the downforce, for instance hitting a bump too hard or suffering some damage to the car, then you can be in trouble.
Q: You scored another three points for sixth place. Was it a good weekend for you?
JT: I qualified fifth and I think that's the 12th time I've qualified in the top five in the 14 races we've had this season, so that was quite satisfying. The wind actually increased quite a lot between free practice on Saturday morning and qualifying in the afternoon. That made the car more difficult to drive and was one of the factors that led to my team mate losing time at Turn 9 when he looked set to qualify on the third row with me. Generally, it's always interesting coming to a new circuit because there is no previous data to work with, just computer simulations. The fact that we continued performing at a high level proved that the team did a good job.
Q: What were your expectations ahead of the race?
JT: Well, I didn't think we would be able to challenge the McLarens and Renaults but I was hoping to maintain my fifth position. We had noticed in the free practice sessions that BAR seemed to have strong pace but they both had problems and qualified a bit further down. Unfortunately, Jenson Button's pit-stop strategy meant that he ran four laps further than me before the second and final pit stops, and he got ahead. I had a bit of traffic at important points, which didn't help.
Q: All the Michelin teams went for the harder tyre. Was wear a concern?
JT: Actually, the tyre degradation was low, it's just that the harder tyre was more suitable.
Q: Did you take part in the post-Hungary meeting with FIA president Max Mosley to discuss safety and other Formula One issues?
JT: Yes. We met in Nice immediately after Budapest. It was very positive and in general Mr Mosley was receptive to everything we brought up. I think everyone appreciates that safety in testing needs to be just as good as at races. Testing is very intensive these days, we do a lot of laps and it is what it says testing and so some things might fail.
Q: What qualifying system would you prefer to see next year?
JT: Well, we made some comments and gave some advice and it is still under discussion. We will have to wait and see. Getting unanimous opinion on anything in F1 is pretty difficult and people have different opinions. But it's not really up to the drivers, it's up to F1 as a whole to choose the best option. The feelings of the fans and the broadcasters have currency in that debate as well.
Q: Do you agree with the idea of having two flying laps instead of one?
JT: I'm pretty easy about it to be honest. I agree with everything. I'm not a difficult customer!
Q: Are you looking forward to the Italian Grand Prix, your home race?
JT: It's always nice to race in front of your own fans and I like Monza. It is a special place with a lot of history. It is very high speed of course, and we will have the opportunity to test before the race, so hopefully we will be in good shape. But everyone else will be testing as well and the competitiveness of F1 gets stronger and stronger. I'd love to score another podium at Monza.