Interview with Toyotas Jarno Trulli 26 Mar 2008
When Toyotas Jarno Trulli stepped out of his car after Sundays Malaysian Grand Prix he looked exhausted and elated. Not only was his fourth place the Japanese teams best result since Ralf Schumachers finish at the 2006 French Grand Prix but, according to Trulli, it was also a real sign of things to come.
After recovering from the heat and humidity of the Sepang race, Toyotas press office caught up with the Italian to relive the race and find out just how worried he had been about Lewis Hamilton's charge in the McLaren...
Q: Jarno, fourth place at Sepang, how satisfying is that?
Jarno Trulli: Its great. I really wanted the fourth place and I dedicate it entirely to the whole team. They have done a very good job over the winter, have given me the car to fight, they are supporting me and the race team did a great job all weekend in Malaysia.
Q: Do you feel the result is representative of the TF108s pace?
JT: The team did a great job all weekend and we deserved to be fighting at the front. I was fighting with the McLarens for most of the race and maybe they were slightly quicker than me on some occasions but I never gave up and we looked really competitive. In the final laps it was Lewis Hamiltons turn to give me a hard time but I just kept fighting and the last 13 laps were more like a qualifying run, with no breathing space at all. Malaysia, with the heat and humidity, is maybe not the best place to have to do that, but thats the way it was.
Q: What happened at the first corner, where you lost some places?
JT: I started third but I went a bit wide at the end of the straight into Turn One. I didnt see Nick Heidfeld on the outside of me at all because, actually, with the higher head protection it is harder to see cars at the side. We touched a little and I lost a bit of ground to Kubica, Webber and Hamilton. It would have been better to get out of Turn One in third place but I dont think we could have kept a podium position because our pace was not quite as quick as some of the others. I think fourth was probably the best we could have achieved and thats what we got, so it was great.
Q: Were you concerned about Hamilton towards the end?
JT: I was just pushing and pushing. I was on the prime tyre at the end and we were having a tougher time on hard tyres; with the option tyre we performed better. I was really trying, I gave everything and fought to the end and made it by a couple of laps maybe. Hamilton had caught me on the last lap or two but getting past is a different thing. This is the kind of result we can expect when we do a great job and when we get the car right. I believe that we have the car to fight with this year and thats a great boost because with last years car I couldnt do that.
Q: Did you feel confident right from the start that the car had the pace to score strong points?
JT: Yes, it was a pretty satisfying weekend because we were always performing in the top six or seven from the start. We did some good long runs in Friday practice and I was quite confident for qualifying, although everything was so tight that anything could happen. One tenth of a second could make a big difference to your qualifying. In Q3, if I had been one tenth quicker I would have been third fastest and if I had been one tenth slower Id have been seventh. Thats how competitive Formula One is at the moment. But the car was well balanced and we found some good set-ups that improved the situation quite a lot from first practice. In general we are where we thought we should be after the last Barcelona test. The McLarens and Ferraris are obviously ahead of us, and we are maybe two or three tenths behind BMW, but we can fight the rest.
Q: Were you pleased that the predicted rain failed to materialise?
JT: We have to cope with whatever we get but I prefer dry and stable conditions because sometimes when it rains in Malaysia it is really bad.
Q: Was that a concern without driver aids?
JT: Its obviously more difficult. You have to be careful but I wont say its dangerous because we have to drive in whatever we get, we have enough safety in Formula One and its good to have no driver aids. We have more fun.
Q: How was the race from the physical point of view in those conditions?
JT: It wasnt too bad but obviously at the end I was very hot after pushing so hard. But during the race I was so busy driving flat out to keep Hamilton behind me that I didnt have time to think about it. Compared to what we are used to in Malaysia it was a bit cooler this year but the humidity still makes it quite unpleasant.
Q: Timo (Glock) had some delays on his way to Kuala Lumpur, but what did you do between Australia and Malaysia? Do you do any special training to cope with the humidity?
JT: Normally we have two or three weeks between the two races but this year there was only a week and so there was very little time to do anything. I felt sorry for Timo when I heard his Sydney connection had been cancelled and he spent 40 hours getting to Kuala Lumpur, on his birthday as well. I didnt have a problem because I was going to Brisbane on some business and everything went okay. I just tried to relax a little. I exercised when I got to Malaysia but in reality, you have done your training and you have what you have. If you are not in good condition when you arrive, its a bit late. Toyota has travelling doctors who give good advice on nutrition and, of course, on keeping your fluid levels up.
Q: You tested in Bahrain over the winter so are you anticipating another strong race?
JT: We had a positive test over the winter in Bahrain and we know what to expect there with our car. We have to continuously improve our car performance if we are to challenge the top teams but I think we can fight for the top six again. The top cars are a little bit out of reach but we showed in Malaysia that we have the potential to get a really good result when we get everything right with the car and the team does a perfect job.