Japanese Grand Prix debrief with Toyotas Jarno Trulli 15 Oct 2008
With Fernando Alonso clinching his second consecutive victory at the Japanese Grand Prix, Toyota have a mountain to climb if they are to overcome their 16-point deficit to the French team and reclaim fourth place in the constructors championship. Following his fifth-place finish at the Fuji race, however, driver Jarno Trulli believes the car has enough performance to help the team finish the season on a high. Here he reviews his race in Japan
Q: Jarno, fifth place and four points at Fuji Speedway but were you expecting more?
Jarno Trulli: I was hoping that I might be able to give the Japanese fans a podium but I did absolutely everything I could and the best result we could achieve was fifth place. I was fighting hard for fourth place but unfortunately Renault was very strong and Nelson Piquet got past me at the final pit stops. It was four points but I was hoping for more.
Q: How was the race?
JT: Our starts have been one of our strong points this season and I made another good one. It was quite tight going into Turn One and I was fighting with a few cars. When the leaders ran wide I was able to move up to fourth. Kimi Raikkonen was one of the cars I got past at the first corner and he was fighting hard to recover after that; we had a good battle but he overtook on lap eight. Still, we were quite competitive and I was again fighting for fourth position in the second half of the race, this time with Piquet. The car was generally okay but the ambient temperature was low and that does not really suit the characteristics of the TF108. It meant that the balance was not perfect all the time and that was why Piquet could overtake in the final pit stops.
Q: Were low temperatures a factor throughout the weekend?
JT: Yes. It didn't feel great on Friday and then Saturday morning practice was wet, but in the end I tried a different set-up direction and found the right way. I changed the car before qualifying, adjusting a few little details that made a big improvement, and I was happier. Up to that point I had just been concentrating on setting up the car and not really looking for a quick lap time so when the time came for qualifying, I was ready.
Q: What were you trying to overcome?
JT: I had some imbalance between high speed and low speed corners; I was suffering some understeer in the high-speed turns and oversteer in slow-speed corners, the last sector in particular. It was difficult to balance both and although I was trying to find a compromise, it wasn't paying off to begin with. We figured out another direction and in the end qualifying was very good. I started seventh and Timo (Glock) was eighth, so overall we were pretty strong.
Q: There was a couple of seconds difference between your Q3 runs. Did you have a problem on the first run?
JT: I had major oversteer. I had the same balance as in Q2 but with different tyres and fuel the car was massively different. I figured out it could only be tyres and in fact with the softer tyre on my final run it came slightly back to normal. It was a funny situation because in Q2 we blew most people away and it was only Ferrari and McLaren who were a couple of tenths quicker. Then, as soon as we put the fuel in, Renault and Fernando Alonso rose up, as well as Robert Kubica.
Q: We saw less than two seconds cover all 20 cars in Q1 in Fuji. What do you think about that?
JT: It just shows you how competitive all the drivers and the teams are; everyone is on a good level. This season it has been extremely important to get all the little details right because the smallest thing can make the difference between being in the top six and being in the top 10. When we have had a perfect weekend this season we have finished on the podium but at the few races when things haven't worked for us, we have been battling just to get in the points. It's so close you have to push to the maximum all the time, which suits me and my way of working. Next year there are big changes and we could see the field spread out a bit. We are already working on finding the right direction so we can be fighting at the front next year.
Q: What do you think of Fuji?
JT: It has good facilities and I can tell you one thing, it is a lot nicer to drive in the dry than in the wet! I like racing in Japan generally. The fans have always supported me, the people are always polite, the circuits are good and I don't really mind whether it is at Fuji or Suzuka. Both have a good atmosphere.
Q: What is the aim for the remaining two races?
JT: Well, it looks very difficult to finish fourth in the constructors' championship now Renault is 16 points ahead. We never give up but you have to say it is a big challenge. We will try to score as many points as possible in China and Brazil and we can still finish the season on a high because the good thing about this year is that we have been competitive pretty much everywhere. It motivates everyone to be in contention and we will be trying as hard as possible until the last lap of the last race.