Renault's Jarno Trulli looks back over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend "Going to Barcelona, the team was feeling optimistic. We know it is a circuit where the car can be quick, but also it is the kind of circuit that can catch you out -- we test...
Renault's Jarno Trulli looks back over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend
"Going to Barcelona, the team was feeling optimistic. We know it is a circuit where the car can be quick, but also it is the kind of circuit that can catch you out -- we test here so much that you think you know it like the back of your hand, but then there is always something different on the race weekends."
"Perhaps its more rubber on the track because there are twenty cars running; perhaps the fact that almost all our practice is done early in the day whereas we race in the afternoon, when track temperatures are very different and the cars' handling changes a lot. And of course, it is also vulnerable to the wind -- which was to prove a big factor in qualifying."
"When we started out on Friday, the car was difficult to drive: the rear end was very nervous under braking and through the corners, always trying to come round on you and spin the car. That makes it difficult to have confidence in the car, and how it is going to react, but on Friday the most important thing is to compare the different tyres you have available, and pay less attention to the set-up."
"I did 36 laps during the day, and finished the first and second sessions in 14th and 8th respectively. We knew there was still more performance to come from the car, and what we had to work on, so it wasn't too bad, even though a small problem with the water temperatures meant that our running was cut short in the afternoon.
"Before Saturday's sessions, we worked quite hard to try and improve the handling. It actually rained overnight, so we did not run much in the first Saturday practice: when the circuit is 'clean' like this, it means the tyres can suffer from some graining, and that makes it difficult to evaluate any changes to the car."
"But once we finally began running, then it became clear that the car was much better and I was able to really push through the corners. Things were better again in the second session, and we ended up fourth. It was clear that the fight at the front of the field would be very competitive, because there were four different teams in the top four -- exactly as it turned out in qualifying in fact.
"At Barcelona, the wind is a strange factor -- it is something that cannot be seen on television, but it has a big impact on the car's aerodynamics, and how it handles. When the wind is constant, that is not too much of a problem, but yesterday it started gusting in all different directions. Pre-qualifying was OK, and I got a good spot in the running order, but for second qualifying, I already knew it would be very windy when I went out, after speaking to Fernando."
"Sure enough, the wind was moving the car about in the corners, making the engine bog down when it was head on -- it was very difficult to predict. In the end, though, in spite of that, I put in a good lap. There were no mistakes, and it put me on the second row -- exactly where I started last year. On Saturday evening, I knew that the podium was a realistic possibility in the race -- especially if we could make a good start."
"Well, I certainly did... It was maybe the best start of my life, and the kind of getaway you dream about. I didn't really pay attention to the lights, instead I let the clutch out and it happened to be when the lights changed -- it was fantastic! I led for the first stint, but I knew Michael was faster -- all I could do was push and try and build a gap to the cars behind him. The race went according to plan -- I just pushed through every stint, keeping the gap constant to the cars behind, and then after my third stop I controlled the gap to Fernando, letting him close up but I knew he couldn't overtake."
"We added some front wing to the car at the final stop, and that got rid of the slight understeer -- the balance all the way through was good, really consistent. It was nice to see the two Renaults cross the line together. This podium means so much to me -- to the team, to my mechanics and engineers but also to a very close friend of mine. He is going through a difficult time, and I dedicate this finish to him really: he has a big battle ahead, but we will all be there with him every step of the way. This result is very, very special for me.