Bahrain GP: Thursday press conference (part 2)

Continued from Part 1 Jarno Trulli (Toyota) John Howett (Toyota Motorsport GmbH president) Q: John, how much of a surprise was the Malaysian result? John Howett: The team has been working very hard throughout the winter. I think everybody...

Continued from Part 1

Jarno Trulli (Toyota)
John Howett (Toyota Motorsport GmbH president)

Q: John, how much of a surprise was the Malaysian result?

John Howett: The team has been working very hard throughout the winter. I think everybody was uncertain - because of the very difficult winter test conditions, the resurfacing of Barcelona - where we were, and I think Jarno clearly demonstrated the pace of the car at the beginning of the Australian race and in qualifying and then I think demonstrated and confirmed where we are currently.

Q: Jarno, obviously a difficult weekend for you at Sepang. How do you feel about this race?

Jarno Trulli: Yes, I believe that every weekend we have to go down and see where we are. We know we have a good car for a good baseline but we still have to discover it, we still have to learn a lot of things. For example, we have learned quite a lot from Australia to Malaysia and in Malaysia we got it better from the beginning to the end of the race. Here we've got similar conditions and we just hope to be competitive. We never know if we're going to be as competitive as we were in Malaysia, because obviously we were very quick but it will be nice to be always in the points and fighting for the top positions. At the end of the day, Toyota has got the potential to do it and we are constantly working on and improving our car.

Q: Do you feel you can be consistent championship contenders?

Jarno Trulli: I am more realistic. I am optimistic but I keep my feet on the ground and say we still have a lot of work to do. The potential is high but we are not using it completely yet. We are working on many areas to improve our car performance and I believe we will have races where we will perform better than others. I'm sure Malaysia was one of those. What we have to do is to prove our package at every race and try to do our best during this season. This is not the right season yet to fight for the championship, but the start is quite promising.

Q: You said the conditions were right in Sepang, given that it's 36 degrees out there and 51 degrees track temperature, is it going to be the same here?

Jarno Trulli: We remain confident, because, as I say, the conditions are very similar here. We have understood quite a lot about the tyres and we believe here we've got a similar package which might help our car and chassis. On the engine side we are okay, we have had full finishes in two races. I remain confident, but I want to keep my feet on the ground and I want to discover the weekend then at the end of the weekend I can talk better about it.

Q: John, just to go back to that point that Jarno made that you couldn't really totally fight for the championship, is that the case?

John Howett: I think it's realistic. We are still a young team. I think we have a very good baseline, as Jarno said, and we have a lot of improvements in the pipeline for both chassis and engine and we just have to keep up the momentum and see how the season moves. I think, all along, we thought we would have the best season ever and that's really our target and ambition, and if at the end of the season we are fighting for the top two or three places in the championship for us it will be extremely good.

Q: Do you notice a different atmosphere now in the factory at Cologne?

John Howett: Yeah, sure. People have been working very hard, particularly the guys working in the composite shops day and night to make the parts, so I think everybody's really happy. I think they felt that we had been knocking on the door of something like this and probably haven't demonstrated the full capability of the whole team and therefore they are delighted, so yeah, they are putting even more effort in.

Q: Is there a lot coming onto the car for Imola?

John Howett: Oh yeah. We have improvements on both chassis and engine for Imola and we have a clear programme. I think we're trying to accelerate as hard as we can to get more, but I guess every other team will be doing the same. It is that relative performance that probably makes the sport so enjoyable and so thrilling.

Q: Can you look at the results so far and say 'that's where we think we are' or is it still really up in the air?

John Howett: I think you can't deny that it wasn't a fluke what Jarno achieved and I think that was reinforced by Ralf in Sepang, so clearly the baseline is very good, but we have got to keep the pressure up and we've got to keep the improvements otherwise we will stand still and we've got keep this momentum running. But I'm confident that both Mike (Gascoyne) and Luca (Marmorini) can do that with the people they've got with them.

Q: Jarno, has it been difficult settling into such an already big organisation? Has it been difficult to find your way around?

Jarno Trulli: I think it is never easy when you join a number one constructor which obviously wants to do well in Formula One. There was a lot of pressure, there is still a lot of pressure. I think both me and Ralf have settled in really well, thanks to the people who are working with the team who are definitely helping us. They are listening and they trust in us and the job we are doing and eventually this result that came in Sepang, not only from me but also Ralf's performance, it was an answer to all those people who have been working with us and showing the direction. It is always difficult when you change teams but to be honest this time was easier than any other time before.

Q: I guess the success brings everyone together...

Jarno Trulli: Yeah, I think so.

Q: Jarno, you mentioned the temperature before. Are you worried, going to Imola? Imola is quite a cold race normally and I think you've been struggling in Melbourne with tyre temperatures?

Jarno Trulli: Imola is a question mark for us. It is a very difficult technical circuit where the car really has to prove its potential in all areas: aerodynamically, mechanically and on the engine side because we have got a lot of long straight, acceleration, hard braking, kerbs, changing direction. It is going to be a tough weekend, so I would prefer to look forward to this weekend and when we get to Imola we will see, because we are getting a lot of updates on the car, so we remain confident but we know that Imola will be an important weekend for us.

Q: Jarno, you have twice been on the front row next to a Renault. Compared to last year, it looks like the Renault hasn't got the advantage at the start that they had before. Do you believe their opposition has improved or you left with the secrets from Renault and you put it in the Toyota?

Jarno Trulli: Let's put it this way, I think I've joined the team in the last year. It's the way we've set up the car, the way we also use the electronics, and obviously the team has got the resources and they have followed the drivers' direction, from me and Ralf and we have definitely improved our starting system which is still weak, but we are on the way up. We know that area has to be improved but it is definitely a step forward compared to last year. On the other hand, I think I've always been quite quick at the start and so at Sepang it wasn't too bad.

Q: Gentlemen, from what you've learned already, in which race, on what circuit do you think Toyota will have the best chance to win their first Grand Prix this year?

Jarno Trulli: I think honestly we have started the season with different targets. Our target is aiming for podiums but mainly to show signs of progress, scoring points and doing a nice and flawless championship. At the moment, I think the results me and Ralf had in Sepang was an extremely good result and gave a good boost to the team but I think it's too early to talk about winning races. I don't think we are ready yet. We have a good car, a good baseline and it is all up to the team and the potential we have to develop the car because we've got an extremely experienced team out there. Some of them, like Renault, are definitely quicker than us at the moment but we are on the way up, so at the moment it is impossible for us to predict when the first victory is going to arrive. It may be this week, it may be in one year, we don't know but we are working to top the list and hopefully this will happen soon.

John Howett: I probably agree with Jarno. I think the two races, historically, we have been competitive at have been Indianapolis and Canada so if you look at the historic relative performance of the car, we have performed well there but I think really we are just focussing on the programme we have got and improving more and more as we go through the season.

Q: You raced here last year and you're here again this year, under two different circumstances, how do you rate your chances this weekend?

Jarno Trulli: It is always difficult to predict a weekend. It doesn't matter which track you are on. Well, the temperatures are high here, there are similar conditions like in Malaysia so we are confident. But it is difficult, now, to talk about this weekend because until we get on the track and we see where we are and how our car and tyres and chassis and everything works, we cannot predict anything. The only thing I can say is that we remain confident. I like the circuit and we will see.

Q: Jarno, you just mentioned that there has been a significant difference between the way you used the electronics last year compared to this year. Can you elaborate on this a little bit?

Jarno Trulli: I will go through the details that I can. I learned a lot of things, analysed a lot of data and we are using the car and electronics better but there is still some room for improvement. The electronics people are extremely competent, they are really good, they follow the drivers' directions and we've made some better starts compared to last year but it is not enough. I don't want to go through details with you because obviously it is top secret.

Q: Aside from the start would you say that you are using more electronics or less, a little bit more driver input than mechanical, if you want?

Jarno Trulli: We are using what the FIA give us the opportunity to use, nothing more and nothing less. We are using all that we can use, partly electronics, partly mechanical, the other part is probably up to the driver.

Q: Jarno, yesterday the World Council received the procedure for anti-doping in Formula One; what is your opinion and do you think there is doping in Formula One?

Jarno Trulli: Personally I never had an opportunity to talk about doping, but I think I have had an anti-doping test personally at Silverstone last year. Everything looked quite professional. I never had a problem and I am the first driver to be present if there is an anti-doping. But honestly I don't think there is any anti-doping in Formula One in the drivers. You can dope the car, probably, and you can make it quicker, but it's an extremely top level sport. It's difficult, it's quite demanding, physically but with a good fitness you can make it. But personally I don't trust any of these words about doping in Formula One, this is my opinion. And anyway, we've got the anti-doping tests so...

Q: To continue on that vein, how careful are you when you have to take medication for whatever reasons?

Jarno Trulli: Well, I'm lucky because Toyota is one of the few teams that has a doctor who follows the drivers, step-by-step on everything, so the medicine we are given, if we have to take it, is strictly controlled by the doctor. So I don't have any problem with it. I sometimes had to change from one medicine to another because some of them were on the anti-doping list, but I think I am lucky to have a doctor available full-time for the team and for the drivers.

Q: John, you have just got Pascal Vasselon, ex-Michelin, in your team. What will be his job, and was it difficult to get him, because I think Williams was also interested in him?

John Howett: I don't know about the competing teams. I think the situation was that Michelin wanted to keep him within their corporation but not in a motor sport environment. As you probably know, he was originally with Renault in Formula One, moved to Michelin, and wanted to stay within Formula One. We offered him a position within our R&D department and he accepted. For us, he will probably be involved in suspension development and other associated chassis areas in our R&D department, but we didn't feel there was any strong competition from other teams.

-fia-

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli
Teams Williams