In 2004, Trulli was on a high. He’d just won the Monaco Grand Prix and was outperfoming his highly rated team mate, a Mr Fernando Alonso, before team relations soured and he left for Toyota.
In those Toyota years we saw flashes of his talent in the races and a lot of exceptional qualifying performances. Given the right car from 2005-2009, I’m sure that Jarno could have won quite a few races (I always thought he’d have made an excellent number 2 for Ferrari) but with Toyota being Toyota and Jarno being Jarno (i.e. inconsistant) the stars never aligned at the right time and a smattering of podiums were all he could muster.
Toyota fold, he goes to Lotus. It all makes sense – experienced driver, great relationship with Gascoyne – yet, in the first part of the season at least, he’s comprehensively outperformed by Heikki. The second half of last year he got it together but this year he’s gone back to looking like a struggling, demotivated has-been whilst his team mate continues to impress. Power steering problems are supposedly the root cause – but to me, this just seems like a facade – could that much really have changed from last year? I know he’s received the brunt of the unreliabilty but he hasn’t always dealt with it brilliantly.
Now, I’ve always been a huge fan of Trulli and I thought that his tenure at Lotus would be a fitting way to end his career – maybe some great qualifying performances to put Lotus on the map, a great battle with Heikki and some invaluable technical input (I have no doubt he’ll have contributed in the area) but now I’m kinda wishing he’d called it a day at the end of 2009 – with that stunning podium at Suzuka I’m sure he’d have been quite fondly remembered. A couple of years ago Jarno was known for being one of the nicest blokes on the grid…but now, that perception seems to be fading.
So, now I’ve reached the end of my musings, what are your thoughts? Why is Jarno so slow this year? Can he turn it around? Will he retire at the end of the year? (Should he?) Would a younger driver be doing better?