Jarno Trulli: the driver debates

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jarno Trulli, Toyota, Istanbul, 2008, 470150

Jarno Trulli is clearly a very quick driver but in at least one respect he is very peculiar: he is often sensation in qualifying, but lacklustre in races.

I struggle to think of any drivers either in F1 history or in other series at the moment who excels on a hot lap but struggles to match that pace over a race distance in quite the same way.

What do you think of Jarno Trulli?

Trulli arrived in F1 courtesy of Minardi but swiftly gained promotion to Prost following Olivier Panis’s leg-breaking crash. He later joined Jordan and performances such as his excellent second on the grid at Monte-Carlo in 2000 drew attention to his pace in qualifying.

In 2002 he joined Renault and he and Jenson Button were generally very closely matched. Button was subsequently dropped for Fernando Alonso and if Trulli was less frequently on Alonso’s pace he nonetheless proved capable of rattling the Spanish driver.

Trulli stuck his Renault on pole at Monaco in 2004 and dominated the race, Alonso crashing while lapping Ralf Schumacher as he hurried to keep pace with him. But Trulli didn’t last the season, falling foul of team boss and manager Flavio Briatore after being pipped for third place on the last lap at Magny-Cours by Rubens Barrichello.

Turfed out of Renault with a few races left he turned up at Toyota where he’s been ever since. Only in 2005 did it look like the partnership might bear fruit, with Trulli racking up a few podium finishes. But they slumped again in 2006 and 2007.

This year Trulli is featuring regularly in the points but once again in Monaco this year we once again caught sight of the ‘Trulli train’, a phenomenon that was quite common in 2005. Is Trulli destined to be remembered as a driver who invariably qualified better than he raced, and ended up holding up lots of other drivers?

Read more about Jarno Trulli: Jarno Trulli biography