Exclusive interview - Toyotas Jarno Trulli 22 Feb 2008
One of biggest questions of 2008 is how Toyotas new car, the TF108, will perform over the coming season. So far during winter testing it has been largely unobtrusive, but tests are tests and the times rarely indicate a machines true potential.
And with new regulations requiring a cars drive train to last for four race weekends in a row, the real secret to success this year might be reliability. In this respect Toyotas Jarno Trulli certainly seems confident that the TF108 wont let him down
Q: Jarno, there are just a few more test days to go until Melbourne, when the true picture of each cars performance will be revealed. What is state of affairs with the TF108?
Jarno Trulli: We have done a lot of laps with the TF108 due to the fact it has been very reliable and this has given us a lot of information. I have worked a lot on set-up to make improvements and we have made good progress, but there is still more to come. The TF108 is completely different to last years car and from a drivers point of view it is an improvement because it has better stability and it gives you the confidence to push harder. We still have a lot of work to do but the TF108 has a lot of potential, we know which areas to work on and we are all very motivated.
Q: You were quoted recently as ruling out podium finishes this season. Where do you see the Toyota team in the paddocks pecking order?
JT: Lets be clear, if the two Ferraris and the two McLarens finish a race it will be extremely difficult for any other team to get on the podium, not just Toyota. There is still a gap between our car and the very top teams, but I expect we will be competitive so we will go to every race expecting to score points.
Q: Over this long and intense winter testing period the team must have seen some improvements. Can you specify the areas where the TF108 has been enhanced in comparison to last years car?
JT: Aerodynamically there have been quite big changes: the new car is a completely different concept. Also, the longer wheelbase has made a difference and these two factors combined have given us more stability and more confidence in the car. It is more driveable and I think we will see continuous improvement throughout the season as we get more and more out of the package.
Q: While the majority of other teams were testing in Jerez, Ferrari and Toyota preferred the Sakhir circuit in Bahrain. Did you hope to gain an advantage over the others ahead of Aprils Bahrain Grand Prix?
JT: That wasnt the main reason, even though it could give us a small advantage when we go to Bahrain for the race. Mainly we tested in Bahrain because of the weather. When we test in Europe in winter usually in the morning the track conditions arent perfect and then there is always a risk of rain. You see it just now in Barcelona. Such conditions can waste a lot of time and as a driver, you want to be on track as much as possible, improving the car. We had no problems with the weather in Bahrain, even if it was a bit windy at times, so we got through a lot of work.
Q: You said recently that Ferraris speed in pre-season testing was depressing
JT: I am never happy if I see another car is faster than mine! We saw in Bahrain that we still have a lot of work to do before we can challenge Ferrari and it will be extremely hard to match their performance.
Q: What are your thoughts on Timo Glock? Are you happy to have a virtual rookie driver as your new team mate or would you prefer a more experienced driver?
JT: Timo is a nice guy and hes a quick driver. Weve spent time working together intensely in the pre-season tests and we have a good relationship. He has raced and tested in Formula One already and also different championships like GP2 and Champ Cars so he has quite a lot of experience for his age. To be honest, I dont mind who my team mate is as long as they also work hard, like I do, to develop the car and Timo is doing this.
Q: As one of the worlds most profitable car manufacturers the Toyota Motor Corporation is used to success. Do you feel any pressure from Japan?
JT: There is always pressure in Formula One. We all want to succeed and we all put ourselves under pressure to get the best possible results from our package. I dont feel under extra pressure because I know I am giving my all, as always, and helping the team make improvements.
Q: If you could make a wish for the season ahead, what would that be?
JT: My wish is to be world champion, but I dont think that is possible this year.