Trulli to Toyota?

Trulli to Toyota?

With the 2004 Formula One season winding down and only three races to go, the title may be decided to history making seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and his Scuderia Ferrari team, but there's plenty more up for grabs in both drivers' and ...

With the 2004 Formula One season winding down and only three races to go, the title may be decided to history making seven-time champion Michael Schumacher and his Scuderia Ferrari team, but there's plenty more up for grabs in both drivers' and constructors' championships. The fight for second in the constructors' race is a tight one, between B.A.R. Honda and Mild Seven Renault F1 teams.

Jarno Trulli.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
This week, with Silverstone testing on the docket, F1's "silly season" of musical chairs continues unabated. Tuesday's announcement that Jacques Villeneuve would test for Mild Seven Renault F1 on the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit Wednesday and Thursday led prognosticators to discern Jarno Trulli might be out of that seat for China, Japan and Brazil.

Not even 24 hours went by, though, before the French-Canadian, winner of the 1995 Indianapolis 500 and CART Championships, who went to F1 with Williams and proceeded to win the title in his second year (1997) was nominated as, theoretically Felipe Massa's teammate on the Sauber Petronas F1 team for 2005. Massa has an additional year on his contract with the Sauber Petronas team.

Even as these machinations occurred, the future of Jarno Trulli, one of only three drivers to win a 2004 Formula One race other than Michael Schumacher, seemed to be in jeopardy. After the Italian and his Mild Seven Renault F1 team announced they would part ways by the end of the season, Trulli managed to produce moribund results that were telling in their complacency.

Flavio Briatore, who has managed Trulli's career over the past ten years Tuesday carefully crafted a statement concerning the Villeneuve test sessions, but made no comments concerning his current driver at the time.

Jarno Trulli.
Photo by LAT Photographic.
Today, however, the Renault team confirmed they would part ways with Trulli prior to next week's inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, leaving the second seat open for the balance of three races this year. If Villeneuve tests as well as Briatore expects, there's little doubt he'll be in the seat for the balance of the season as partner to Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

And Trulli? He could easily be named to drive in the final three races preparatory to a full year with the Germany-based Panasonic Toyota squad. After declaring, "I am grateful to the [Mild Seven Renault F1] team for releasing me from my obligations, which will give me the opportunity to start with my new team sooner than expected," it could well be he will test for Toyota Thursday. A team member, requesting anonymity stated a driver announcement will be made tomorrow.

Making scenarios ever murkier, Toyota have declined to admit Trulli's status with the team for the balance of the 2004 season and beyond. Panasonic Toyota earlier announced their signing of Ralf Schumacher for the 2005 season and current veteran driver, Frenchman Olivier Panis has stated he will retire from racing Formula One cars after the Brazilian Grand Prix season finale.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Ralf Schumacher , Olivier Panis , Fernando Alonso , Felipe Massa , Flavio Briatore
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Williams