Q&A with Toyotas Jarno Trulli 24 Jun 2008
Recently Toyota have had very few reasons to smile but on Sunday at Magny-Cours, Jarno Trulli finally delivered some good news for the Japanese team, with a strong drive to third place in the French Grand Prix. Nevertheless, his journey to six points was far from easy, with an epic tussle with McLarens Heikki Kovalainen, and changeable weather, dominating his running. Here the Italian reflects on the French race and explains why he believes he's driving better than ever...
Q: Congratulations on third place - how did it feel to be back on the podium?
Jarno Trulli: It was just a fantastic feeling and it was a great reward for everyone in the team because we had a perfect weekend. I know everyone back in Cologne is working really hard to improve the car and at Magny-Cours my engineers, my mechanics and everyone performed to the maximum. So it was great to share that moment with them on the podium and to see the satisfaction in the garage afterwards. This gives us a big boost for the second half of the season.
Q: Did you expect to be fighting for the podium?
JT: At the beginning of the weekend I wasn't expecting to be challenging for third place, that's for sure. However, we had some new aero bits on the car which we expected to bring an improvement and as the weekend went on I felt we were looking quite strong. Qualifying fourth was a great result and after that I thought I had a very good chance to finish in the top six and maybe push for the podium, if everything went well. I was really fired up for the race because I thought there was the possibility for a fantastic result and I'm so happy it all worked out.
Q: Was it a tough race for you?
JT: I was pushing to the maximum all race and fighting really hard, as always. It wasn't easy but after I passed Fernando (Alonso) at the start I knew we had a chance so I never gave up and really pushed every lap. I had to be strong to stay ahead because we were fighting with cars which were a little bit quicker than us. It was tough but I was determined to get a great result, especially at this race because of what happened to Ove Andersson. We wanted to pay tribute to him because he did so much for this team. It was a shame he couldn't see such a great result but it was fantastic to dedicate my third place to him.
Q: How were the final laps for you?
JT: It was very exciting at the end of the race, battling with Heikki (Kovalainen). We had some rain and it is harder to be in front in these conditions because you don't know exactly what to expect at each corner; it is easier to follow. So Heikki was very close to me and putting me under a lot of pressure, but I was determined not to lose position. With two laps left he pulled alongside but I was strong and didn't give up. It was close but I fought hard and held on.
Q: Can you describe that incident?
JT: He pulled alongside me and I took the inside line so we went wheel to wheel. I didn't want to lose that position because I could see the podium getting close. We didn't touch because I gave him just enough room. It was like racing go karts - I didn't expect to have the chance to race like that in Formula One again! It was a fun fight, even better for me because I was able to keep position. I would love to fight like that for podium positions at every race!
Q: How have things changed since last year?
JT: This year we are much more competitive; the car seems more balanced and I am able to push more because it is very drivable. Quite simply the car is quicker than last year and that means we are more competitive. We have already scored a lot more points than in 2007, which shows the improvement we have made and that is thanks to the hard work of everyone in the team. We know we are still a little behind the fastest cars but we have shown that at some races we can fight with McLaren and BMW. We want to do this more often and to do so we must improve the car even more but I am sure we are heading in the right direction.
Q: And how do you think you have been driving this year?
JT: I think I am driving better than ever. I have experience and I believe I improve every year because you always learn from mistakes or from your experiences. With a competitive car I can fight at the front, I am sure of that. In France I showed how determined and hard-headed I am; I fought to the end and really enjoyed the battle.