Archive for the ‘Trulli’ Category

I’m grateful to Robbie for sending me the link to YouTube where there is an extract of Toyota team radio, which gives a vivid picture of what it he experienced when Lewis Hamilton passed him in the final stages of that Australian GP. Trulli slows down to let him repass, but he doesn’t pass.

Hamilton is in front of the stewards, two of whom were Melbourne stewards, as I write this.

Some bits I pulled out from the Trulli recording which I find interesting – Trulli says that if he has a KERS car behind him he is ‘in trouble’ at the restart. The KERS made quite a difference to the racing and certainly helped with overtaking non-KERS cars. Once everyone has it of course the situation will be normalised, but for the moment there are some good opportunities for KERS cars.

When asked whether Hamilton passed him under the safety car, Trulli is not sure if the safety car had been deployed or not. This shows how much of a picture a driver has at a time like this. He knows that there were yellow flags, but hasn’t noticed any SC boards around the track.

Trulli spells out that he passed Hamilton, because he was going very slowly, but then he slowed to let him back past and Hamilton does not go past.

Very interesting stuff and I’m sure under the FIA’s new transparency rules regarding the stewards decisions, full radio extracts of this incident will be published on the FIA and F1.com websites once the decision has been reached. Another example of how the internet is bringing the fans and media closer to the sport and, critically, closer to understanding the sport!

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One of the most striking things about the way the testing has been going has been the performance of Toyota. In the hands of both drivers the car has proved reliable as well as fast over long runs, the ideal triple crown, really.

You sense that this could be the year of the breakthrough for Toyota which is still looking for its first win in F1. Jarno Trulli certainly seemed to think that is the case, when I caught up with him this evening.

“We hope so, we are optimistic,” he said. “Only the race results will tell us the truth, but so far this is one of the best cars that Toyota has made so I’m confident that we can be right at the top.”

Trulli and team mate Timo Glock have been matching the testing performances of BMW and Ferrari so far this winter and according to Trulli, the picture is accurate.

“We can be there with them,” he said. “We are always competitive, always at the top of the list. Our aim is to be in the top three or four at the start of the season and see what we can do from there. I’m more and more confident. Only Melbourne will tell us for sure but we are in pretty good shape.

“The car is consistent on long runs, we’ve done several and we have found the car consistent in every condition.

“When the car is quick nothing is tricky. So far this car has been quite competitive from the beginning. I think the aerodynamics guys got it right from the beginning. The front wing change has been useful. With slick tyres it’s fine but it’s a new experience for us and for Bridgestone and we need to find the right compounds because everyone was struggling in Jerez.

“Slicks can be an advantage for me because on grooved tyres I had some problems, especially with front graining, which I really didn’t like.”

Trulli is a formidable qualifier, as we know and he could well feature at the front of the grid in Melbourne. When the car is working well he’s raced very well too as his string of podiums three years ago showed. Since then it’s been a bit of a struggle, with certain tracks like Magny Cours and Budapest working well for the team, while it has traditionally struggled at bumpy circuits. Trulli thinks that this will still be the case, but in a milder form and thinks that the baseline of this car is just generally a lot higher than it has been before.

Watch out for Trulli in 2009!

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I was interested to see that at a press conference at Portimao circuit yesterday, attended by colleagues from the ITV F1 website, Toyota’s John Howett sounded a stark warning about Toyota’s future in the sport if they do not succeed this season.

He said, ” We have a great team of people and I think we just feel it’s about time we won. We need a strong season. If we have a weak season we have no future.

“Whether we have to win is difficult to say, but I think we feel we have to win.”

This is slightly at odds with the tone of the language at the launch and represents a significant ramping up of the stakes by Toyota. Going back to that shocking week in early December when Honda announced they were pulling out of F1, the word on the street in the days leading up to Honda’s announcement was that Toyota was about to announce something. If indeed they ever were planning a withdrawal or even a phased announcement, once Honda pulled the plug, they merely said that at present they were committed.

Everyone has been looking at Toyota for some time and wondering when they will follow Honda. Now John Howett has made a comment, which will hang over them throughout the season. There is a coded message to the powers that be not to take Toyota’s participation for granted, but I think this is more of a call to arms than anything else, a calculated message to everyone in the team to dig deep, ignite the passion and find something special. The team is actually quite bullish about this season ahead, despite the fact that the word I’m hearing is that this is quite a conservative car at the moment, compared to the others.

Nevertheless Jarno Trulli reacted to Howett’s comments by saying, “Now the pressure is on the whole team, we have the structure, the means and the experience. I’m convinced that this will be the year in which Toyota will celebrate its first win and I hope it’s me who brings it.”

What we have at the moment is a phoney war, the early shots are being fired, but because of rain and teams being at different tracks it’s way too early to say who’s quick and who’s not. My hunch, from previous experience, is that someone will have found an edge with these new rules and it doesn’t have to be Ferrari and McLaren, it could easily be a Renault, a BMW or a Toyota.

Adrian Newey has a pretty fantastic track record at interpreting new rules and finding an edge, so the Red Bull will be interesting to see when it launches next month. The technical group there is now well and truly bedded in and the Renault engine has been brought up to level power with the others. Webber and Vettel will get the thing flying.. if it’s good enough to be flown..

With such massive rule changes it’s virtually certain that the pecking order will be different this year from last. Williams too has a good chance to move up. I can’t wait until the picture starts to emerge over next month’s tests.

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