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Q&A with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli 07 Apr 2006

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 1 April 2006

Jarno Trulli has not had the easiest of starts to the 2006 season. Three races in and he is yet to score a point. In contrast, team mate Ralf Schumacher has already made a podium appearance. Nevertheless, the Italian remains upbeat. Speaking to Toyota’s press office, Trulli looks back on last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix - and ahead to his first ‘home’ race of the season at Imola…

Q: How much progress have you made with the car since Bahrain?
Jarno Trulli:
It's been quite positive. The problem is not so much the car as making the car work with the tyres. In Bahrain the track temperature was lower than expected and we were not generating enough heat to get the tyres into their operating window. When that happens you just don't get any grip but you can't really say that it's the car. It's a combination.

Q: So what did you do to improve things?
JT:
We went back to Europe between the Malaysian and Australian races and we tested with Bridgestone at Paul Ricard. We hoped that we had found solutions and we looked a lot better in Australia.

Q: Do you like the Albert Park track?
JT:
I like the atmosphere in Australia, the friendly people, and I always seem to go well at Albert Park, even if I haven't had much luck. Nothing changed this time...

Q: What happened to you in qualifying because the pace looked good?
JT:
We were in much better shape. The car felt good and I was confident of being able to qualify in the top five, like we did so many times last year. You always get traffic under the new qualifying format and you have to try and work a clear lap. It is particularly bad if the session is red-flagged, as happened in Australia, because it then becomes a mad scramble and a bit of a lottery. But that wasn't my concern, I had more to worry about.

Q: Why did you not do the top 10 shoot-out even though you qualified for it?
JT:
Qualifying was a bit of a disaster for me. As I said, the pace was there and I was fourth quickest in the first short session and then seventh in the second. The problem was that we had a small electronic glitch in the first session and it damaged fifth gear, which failed at the end of the second session, when I was on my 'in' lap. I also had a broken rear wing end-plate after I hit some debris. It was unlikely that I was going to be able to improve on 10th place, so we took the decision not to run in the final part so that we could have more options with race strategy.

Q: But your accident with David Coulthard ruined any benefits of that?
JT:
Exactly. There is always a lot of incident on the first lap in Melbourne because the first corner is tight and the grip levels are relatively low. I passed Coulthard into Turn 3 but ran a little wide and he came past me again. He was zig-zagging a bit on the straight but I was clearly inside him when we got to the braking area for Turn 6. It was as if he didn't know I was there and he just turned in. He ended up in the gravel and my car had damaged rear suspension in the impact and I was out of the race. I really don't understand things like that.

Q: So, unlucky in qualifying, unlucky in the race, and feeling unwell too?
JT:
Yes, almost as soon as I arrived in Australia I had flu symptoms. I felt a bit feverish and completely blocked up. Maybe I caught something from the air conditioning or something with all the flying, but it certainly didn't help. Then the Toyota doctor diagnosed an ear infection and recommended that I delayed flying home. Altogether, not a happy weekend...

Q: So you will presumably be looking forward to Imola?
JT:
Yes, when I get home! The first three races can be quite difficult because you are a long way away and it is difficult to make progress with the car. Having said that, we did productive Bridgestone work and we now have a three-week gap before Imola. That will give us the opportunity to do two more tests and confirm our findings from Melbourne because we also expect to have relatively low track temperatures in the next two races at Imola and Nurburgring.

Q: How big a boost was Ralf's third place?
JT:
I was delighted for the race team guys and everybody back at the factory after they all put so much effort into the winter programme. We started poorly in Bahrain for the reasons I've already explained, and while nobody thought that was representative of out true level, it is always nice to put in a performance and prove the car's capability. The target was to challenge for a win this year and Ralf getting a podium was the first step towards that. I was much happier with our pace in Melbourne and it is a good boost for the whole team as we head into the European season. It was not my plan to come home from the first three races without any points but in the last two races my car has been hit. We missed out on points in Malaysia because Tonio Liuzzi hit the back of my car at the first corner and we missed out in Melbourne after the collision with Coulthard. Sometime soon my luck has to change. Let's hope it's in my home country at Imola!