Toyota's Jarno Trulli looks back over the British Grand Prix weekend and discusses the Grand Prix Drivers' Association Q: Jarno, from the back of the grid to 11th -- satisfying or frustrating? Jarno Trulli. Photo by xpb.cc. Jarno...
Toyota's Jarno Trulli looks back over the British Grand Prix weekend and discusses the Grand Prix Drivers' Association
Q: Jarno, from the back of the grid to 11th -- satisfying or frustrating?
Jarno Trulli: Frustrating, because you don't get any points for 11th. And on top of that I was looking forward to racing the TF106B on a high-speed track like Silverstone after an encouraging test in Barcelona.
Q: How had the British GP been shaping up before your engine failure?
JT: I was quite quick on Friday, fourth in the first practice session and fifth in the second, and was optimistic. I wasn't taking anything for granted because I think we did more laps than usual on Friday because we had not tested at Silverstone in 2006 and so we had more set-up work to do than most of our rivals. But, on Saturday morning, when I was 16th, that wasn't representative because we did not use any new tyres and I was expecting to make it through into the final part of qualifying. My team mate qualified seventh and showed that the TF106B had good pace.
Q: Is Silverstone a worse place than most to start from the back?
JT: It's never good! But, yes, it was particularly tough at Silverstone. As soon as I didn't get a flying lap in the first part of qualifying and appreciated that there was an engine problem, I knew I was going to have a very difficult Sunday afternoon. The problem is that Silverstone is all high-speed corners, which makes aerodynamic efficiency one of the most important factors.
As soon as you try to run close enough to pass the car in front, you lose your downforce, and this is particularly true at the fast Maggotts/Becketts part of the circuit when you are trying to position yourself to pass a car on Hangar Straight. I did pass a lot of the slower cars on the first lap but as soon as you come up against the more competitive ones, you have to plan your strategy around the pit stops.
Q: How did that work out?
JT: Okay at the first stop but not so good at the second, when I was hoping to pass Rubens Barrichello's Honda. My fastest race lap was the seventh quickest and about half a second quicker than Rubens, but when I came out of the pits I was in traffic and so I didn't pass him.
Q: As a director of the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers Association), were important issues discussed at Silverstone?
JT: We actually meet at every Grand Prix and I'm happy to explain because I don't think many people appreciate what the GPDA is all about. It is an organisation that works for safety improvements for drivers, teams and spectators. We have been discussing the safety problems we encounter when we go testing or racing for a long time -- particularly testing.
Q: But was Michael Schumacher's Monaco qualifying incident not on the agenda at Silverstone?
JT: No. I'm not saying that drivers don't care, but the GPDA cannot officially judge driver behaviour. We can discuss between us personally but I can do that personally with any driver outside of the GPDA.
Q: Is it right that you are working for safety in the GPDA and some high profile drivers don't bother to turn up?
JT: Some top drivers are not part of the GPDA because they have decided not to be. That is their decision and it's not for me to comment. If they don't want to discuss safety or don't care about it, I cannot force them. We founded the association to do our best to improve safety and we have achieved many things through many years.
Q: How does the GPDA work?
JT: Michael Schumacher, David Coulthard and I are the directors, appointed by a vote. We do most of the jobs - taking care of things and exchanging e-mails, but all the drivers are very welcome and they give us a lot of input from outside, always regarding safety. So we represent them but we don't have extra power.
Q: Do you find it time-consuming?
JT: There is quite a lot or work exchanging e-mails, liaising with Giselle, who works full-time in Monaco, preparing meeting agendas and explaining problems. For instance, I had a problem in a recent Barcelona test, went off into the gravel and when I rejoined the track there was a huge bump and the car just took off. You have to prepare written safety reports about things like that, which all the drivers are encouraged to do because it is the right way to move forward.
It's an extra job that probably many other drivers do not care about or want the responsibility. Some are very sensitive to that and co-operate a lot, others less so, but it's the kind of situation you would find anywhere. But it's good that we stick together anyway. Most of the time, when we take a decision it is more or less unanimous.
Q: How is the GPDA funded?
JT: We pay ourselves. When we make a decision to be part of the GPDA, we pay every time we get points. I don't remember exactly, I think it's ?180 per point. This money normally covers the expenses we have and if we have extra we either keep it for the next year or, if it builds up, say over three years, we give it to charity.
Q: What have you decided about testing?
JT: Safety during testing is the big issue we have approached since last year. It is low compared to safety at races. And in the end we do exactly the same job, with more mileage and less rest. So we have agreed, together with the teams, to try to increase safety during testing. We have agreed that we should push the circuits directly to increase the safety level and then whenever there is an extra little charge from the testing venue to the team, they will charge us and we will then endorse the invoice to the teams because the teams have agreed to help us. To the drivers it's very important.
Alex Wurz, for example, had a big accident and he reported that he had pieces all over his head, his car was destroyed and the marshals came after three minutes. That is no way acceptable. It should be within one minute. It's something we can't accept anymore. We don't want exactly the same safety levels as the races because we understand it's testing, but we need to have at least the minimum. We have gone through much data and Toyota's Dr Cecarelli is also working for the GPDA and is checking everything. We know exactly how many and what kind of doctors we need, the marshals we need, the ambulance we need.
Q: Are testing days more dangerous than racing?
JT: Yes, and we all agree that. Okay, we don't have the race start, but we run over 100 laps a day and if we go back five years ago, an average good day was 60-70 laps. Many people are running 120-130 laps. An accident can come anytime. We need to be ready. We don't want to wait for an accident to come. You remember poor Elio de Angelis? (who died in a testing accident at Paul Ricard in 1986). The accident came and then eventually they increased the safety level. We have to run ahead of the problem.
Q: As we go to North America, has the GPDA talked about the fiasco at the US GP last year?
JT: We discussed it because it was a safety issue. But, honestly, we simply couldn't race last year and so there was very little to be done. I think the tyre suppliers will be a bit more careful going there this year.