Exclusive Q&A with Toyotas Jarno Trulli 22 May 2008
Winning the Monaco Grand Prix is a career aspiration for every driver and in 2004 the dream came true for Toyotas Jarno Trulli. Since that victory for Renault, Trulli has been fighting for another chance to get to the top step of the podium.
And this season, with the TF108 improving at every event, Trulli is expecting another good result around the streets of Monte Carlo, even though a top-three finish still seems a fair way off...
Q: Jarno, Monaco must hold sweet memories for you as it was here in 2004 that you won your first Formula One race
Jarno Trulli: Its a dream for any driver to win his first Grand Prix and the way I won, dominating both qualifying and the race, gave me a lot of satisfaction. I cant say why Ive generally gone so well here in the past but Monaco is obviously one of my favourite tracks and a place where the driver probably makes more of a difference than anywhere else. It is a great event with a fantastic atmosphere and I have some special memories.
Q: This track has proven in that past that it can turn the grid hierarchy upside down. Could you be a winner in this years shake-up?
JT: The great thing about Monaco is you never know what will happen. We have seen some really unpredictable results here in the past, but that is the point; they are unpredictable so I cant say what might happen. Obviously, I would love to win again in Monaco but I am not expecting it this year.
Q: Here everything centres on finding the perfect high-downforce configuration. You did 120 laps at last weeks Paul Ricard test with largely midfield times. How significant would you judge those times?
JT: You can never read too much into test results so last weeks times will not give much idea of what will happen here. At Paul Ricard it was the first time I have driven the TF108 in high-downforce specification and I didnt really feel the different set-ups we tried but I think that was more a characteristic of the circuit. I dont really enjoy driving at Paul Ricard but here is a different matter and I expect to be challenging for the points again as we have done all season.
Q: And how do you believe the TF108 will perform on the narrow streets of the Principality?
JT: As usual I am optimistic. The top three teams are ahead of us and we are in a tough fight with Red Bull and Renault, so we have to work hard but we are aiming for points, thats for sure.
Q: Before the race there is qualifying. So far you have made it into Q3 at every race. Do you expect the same here?
JT: Absolutely! Qualifying is more important here than anywhere else, so getting to Q3 is the first target and then I will do my best to start as high as possible.
Q: At the very beginning of the season you feared that reliability could be an issue with the TF108, but except for Australia you have finished every race - sometimes brilliantly, like in Malaysia, and sometimes nowhere near the points. Why do you believe there are these variations in performance?
JT: Its not really true to say sometimes we have been nowhere close to the points. Okay, in Turkey I lost some positions on the first lap and was then stuck in traffic so I could only finish 10th, but I was only five seconds away from the points and we definitely had the pace to finish higher - my race was unfortunately spoiled at the start. I finished the previous three races in the points and I was in the top six in Australia before my battery problem, so I think I have been consistently competitive everywhere. It is a tight fight between ourselves, Red Bull, Renault and Williams so we have to be performing at our maximum to get good results, but our car is capable of finishing in the points consistently, as we have already shown.
Q: Looking at the drivers standings you are tied with Fernando Alonso on nine points apiece, so the drivers battle also rages in the midfield. Can you keep moving up the ladder?
JT: I certainly hope to. As you say, it is a really close fight and small issues can make a big difference to the end result. I think it will be nearly impossible to finish in the top six in the championship but we will fight for the best possible result.
Q: Your nine points are all that Toyota has on its balance sheet. Zero for your team mate Timo Glock so far. Are you surprised?
JT: Yes and no. Timo has shown he is a very quick driver but he has not had the chance to score points because of some problems. The fight is so close you cannot afford to have any bad luck, or any kind of incident, if you are to score points. Hes a good guy and a fast driver so I am sure he will score points very soon.