Toyota's Jarno Trulli reviews the Brazilian Grand Prix and looks ahead to the next race in Japan. Q: How was your Brazilian Grand Prix? Jarno Trulli. Photo by Toyota Racing. Jarno Trulli: I like Interlagos, it's quite a technical...
Toyota's Jarno Trulli reviews the Brazilian Grand Prix and looks ahead to the next race in Japan.
Q: How was your Brazilian Grand Prix?
Jarno Trulli: I like Interlagos, it's quite a technical circuit and I was hoping that I would have a strong race but unfortunately we needed to change an engine in practice, which meant that I went back 10 places on the grid and started in 18th place.
Q: And that was a new experience for you?
JT: Definitely! Although we have had to use engines for two races in 2005, our reliability has been excellent and the engine department has done a superb job. This was the first time that we have had any kind of penalty and, as we have seen, it has happened to some of the top teams a lot more often. When you look at my qualifying positions this year I have been in the top five 13 times in 16 races before Brazil and never outside the top 10, so yes, it was different territory for me!
Q: What are the characteristics of Interlagos?
JT: From Turn 12, Juncao, to Turn 1 is flat-out, with quite a steep uphill section. The track is run in an anti-clockwise direction and so that can be tough on the neck as the race goes on, and as far as the car is concerned, it demands a strong engine. The back straight is quite long too, but then the infield section is very tight. That demands a compromise set-up. You want downforce for the twisty parts but not for the straights.
There is only one real passing opportunity, into Turn 1, and so you have to make sure you don't run so much rear wing that you become an easy target on the straight. The ideal one lap set-up for the best lap time, therefore, would perhaps have more downforce than a race set-up, where you have to worry about overtaking. But these days, of course, we have to race with the same set-up that we finish qualifying.
Q: Once you knew that you had a grid penalty, did the team fuel you up for a long first stint in order to try and make up places?
JT: That was basically the plan, yes. It meant that I was actually quite proud to qualify eighth fastest before my penalty. In the race I ran as far as lap 32 before my first pit stop, which was only three before half distance. That shows how heavy with fuel the car was. The difficult thing about is that it becomes very hard to pass people.
Q: Why did you stop on the last lap?
JT: I had an pneumatic problem. They were planning to make a proper investigation later before seeing if we need to put in a new engine for Suzuka.
Q: Are you looking forward to going to Japan for Toyota?
JT: I actually really like racing in Japan. Suzuka is a great circuit to drive and it was in Japan last year where I took a 'provisional pole' for Toyota when we had both of the sessions on Sunday morning before the race. That was when we were expecting a typhoon in the Suzuka region and it was decided to abandon the Saturday. We had the very unusual situation of all the drivers hanging around at the Circuit Hotel waiting for a storm that never came. But I suppose it was better than being wise after the event! And we got a chance to do some bowling and have a meal together.
Q: What is so special about Suzuka?
JT: It is sweeping and fast and you have to have both good rhythm and strong commitment. The Esses in sector are a challenge to the drivers and the 130R bend, although slightly modified now, is still very fast.
Q: Do the Japanese fans have a special affinity with the sport?
JT: They seem to. The race used to be even better-attended than it is now and I think that they used to receive something like six times as many requests as they had tickets, so they held a kind of ballot to see who got them. I remember seeing fans sleeping outside on tables in the pouring rain to be guaranteed a good place to watch.
Q: When will you go to Japan?
JT: I arrive on the Tuesday before the race, which will give me some time to adjust to the different time zones. It is actually quite tough because after Brazil, which is five hours behind Europe, I go back to Spain to test this week at Jerez, before heading on to Japan, which is eight hours the other way. With all the travelling it is important to try to eat at the correct times, sleep at the correct times and keep the body well hydrated to minimise the effects of jet lag and changing time zones.
Q: With just the far eastern races remaining, how do you assess your season?
JT: It has been extremely good. Over the last few races we were hoping to challenge Ferrari for third place in the constructors championship because there was no doubt we had the capability. But things haven't quite gone our way. Overall though, the season has been better than I could have expected and I'd say the highlight was the second place at race two in Malaysia and then repeating it in Bahrain.
Q: What did you think of the way the championship was won?
JT: It seems a long time since we have had a different world champion, it was almost as if Michael Schumacher had taken over private ownership of the title! I think Fernando Alonso has driven a very good season. Both he and his team have shown very strong reliability and consistency and, as my old team mate of course, I'd like to offer him my sincere congratulations!
Q: What does Toyota need to do to challenge for the title?
JT: More of the same, I'd say. We made very significant progress this year to be challenging for a top three finish in the manufacturers' championship and you have to remember that the team is still relatively young. We will have done four seasons at the end of this year and if you add to together the collective experience of Ferrari, McLaren and Renault, it comes to almost 125 years!