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Q&A with Toyota’s Jarno Trulli 11 Jan 2008

Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota. Toyota TF108 Launch, Cologne, Germany, 10 January 2008. World © Sutton Toyota TF108 Launch, Cologne, Germany, 10 January 2008. World © Sutton Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107 . Formula One Testing, Day Three, Jerez, Spain, 06 December 2007. World © Patching/Sutton Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF107 Formula One Testing, Barcelona, Spain, 14 November 2007. World © Bumstead/Sutton

2007 was a disappointing year for Toyota. The team’s management knew it, the fans knew it and, more than anyone, driver Jarno Trulli knew it. From 17 races and 14 top-ten grid slots, the best Trulli could muster was a sixth place at the United States Grand Prix. But with the new TF108 launched and ready for its track debut, the Italian is hopeful a change is in the air…

Q: What is your reaction to the 2007 season?
Jarno Trulli:
Let’s put it this way, we could have done better. We all could have done better and we all want to do better. We did not get the results we were expecting so we were not happy at all with our season. But we will have a positive reaction and push hard to make improvements for 2008.

Q: What are your hopes for 2008?
JT:
My hopes are always high because normally I am very positive. I think that the team has got the potential, the resources, the people and everything necessary to bounce back to the position where we belong. I believe we can produce a good car for next season. This is my hope. It goes without saying that from a personal point of view I expect to score more points and challenge further up the grid than was possible last year.

Q: Is it realistic for Toyota to aim for the podium in 2008?
JT:
Finishing on the podium is always possible and realistic. Obviously we have to be careful and not be unrealistic - Formula One is a very hard sport so we cannot expect to suddenly be right at the top. We have to be modest and say that we have some work to do to catch up with the very top teams but I think we can bounce back and score points regularly if we do a good job over the winter time. This means we can expect to fight for podiums sometimes.

Q: Do you believe Toyota has the potential to succeed?
JT:
I am sure of that. It is a very dedicated team with some very good people and we have a lot of potential. We know we still have a lot of work to do to achieve our aims but there is certainly the potential within this team to be successful in Formula One. I am optimistic for the future.

Q: What lessons did the team learn in 2007?
JT:
You are always learning in life and in Formula One. Last season was difficult for us but we understand there are areas we must improve. Sometimes last season our pace was quite good but we were unable to get the results we were capable of so this is a major factor to improve. There were many small things which cost us positions, for example the problems I had a few times at the start of a race. But when you learn something, you can only improve afterwards so I hope we can avoid similar problems next year.

Q: What is your initial opinion on the TF108?
JT:
It looks very promising but it is impossible to make a prediction before I drive it for the first time. I am an optimistic person so I have high hopes but we just have to wait and see how it performs on the track. One thing is for sure, it looks very different to the TF107.

Q: What input have you had in the development of the TF108?
JT:
I have been giving input into this car since the middle of the 2007 season, helping to develop it to adapt to the new rules which ban traction control and engine braking. I talk a lot with the engineers and if I think something needs improving, I will tell them. There is quite a big change in terms of electronics this year and I have spent time working with the team on this. I am doing all I can to help the team to step up.

Q: What is your opinion about the ban on driver aids?
JT:
I am definitely looking forward to racing without driver aids like traction control. Personally, I am really excited and I believe this move will suit me because it gives the car back to the driver and he has to give more input to get the best out of it. We tested without traction control at the end of last year and I must say I really enjoyed driving the car, it was a lot more fun!

Q: This is your fourth full season with the team, does that stability give you an advantage?
JT:
I think stability is an advantage. I really enjoy working with the team and I am comfortable here. I know the engineers and the way the team works so I think that kind of stability has to be an advantage. We work strongly as a team and we are pulling together to help move forward after the problems we had in 2007. Obviously it was a difficult season in terms of results and performance but we are all committed to making a significant improvement. I know the team very well and they know me very well - we understand each other’s potential and I am sure sticking together will be an advantage in the future.

Q: Are you still as motivated as ever?
JT:
I am probably more motivated than ever to have a good season. Only a few years ago, in 2004, I won my first Grand Prix and had my first pole positions and then when I joined Toyota in 2005, straight away I was on the podium and fighting at the front. It is frustrating that we have not been in a position to do that in the last two seasons. I really want to get back to where I was in my first season with Toyota and move on from there. This team has more potential than the results we had in 2007, I honestly believe we belong much higher up and I am fired up to help the team improve.