What's happened to Jarno Trulli?

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    Dan Thorn

    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?



    Ah. I remember that Monaco Grand Prix very fondly indeed. I was going through a Trulli phase at the time and I desperately wanted him to win that race.

    But yes, you’ve summed it up well Dan. That’s exactly how I feel. I’ve always been a Trulli fan (as I am a fan of all of the friendly drivers, even if they’re not particularly quick) but he’s just disappeared. In 2009 he was as fast or perhaps faster than his team-mate, but since he joined Lotus, we’ve not heard much more.

    Anyway, I hope he can bounce back, but I fear his time has come, unfortunately. Only he will realistically know when he needs to step down, but I still think (this really hurts to admit) he should probably call it quits. :( Perhaps his talent is fading. It’s a shame, whatever the case.



    Disappeared has that one lap pace he used to have.

    I think it’s just the way of F1, some drivers drop off quite quickly and never recover. I hope he does give Heikki a run for his money sometime soon, but at the moment I can’t see it happening. Before too long I see Trulli leaving the Lotus team and retiring, just as soon as Lotus become a strong midfield team.



    Sorry, that first sentence sounded like Yoda!


    Prisoner Monkeys

    I think Trulli is past it. He’s in danger of becoming the new Roberto Moreno, getting to the point where he’ll drive a wheelie bin for the love of the sport if that’s all there is on offer. He should have retired on a high note at the end of 2009 instead of consigning himself to ingloriously fading away.



    He got old, he got slow and he can’t even pull it out over one lap like he used to. Forget Schumacher’s “big joy” I can’t imagine Trulli is having much fun either. I get the feeling he is just driving for the money and the project of Team Lotus so that if they do win one day, he can feel like he contributed to that. Which he will have.


    Tom L.

    I was inspired by his Austria 1997 performance in my first year of watching the sport and have followed his performances with interest ever since. I do wonder how he might have done had he stayed with Renault into the second half of the decade, as both he and the team would have been performing at their peak.

    I disagree with the suggestion that he should have retired at the end of ’09. His Suzuka performance (and that year generally) showed that with a decent car under him – which that Toyota was – he still had it in him. Why stop if you can still drive quickly? Schumacher stopped at the top of his game and regretted it.

    Last year wasn’t great for Trulli but not that bad either; as Dan points out his second half of the season was notably better than the first. He also had a lot more reliability problems than Heikki, which didn’t help matters.

    This year it hasn’t been working out for whatever reason (reliability again, lack of pace compared to Heikki) and I imagine how the rest of the season works out will determine his future. If he can turn things around like last time, I see no reason why he shouldn’t stay another year; if he can’t, maybe it’s time to stop. But if this weekend is anything to go by, things are looking up: despite more reliability problems he ran strongly in the race, ahead of Heikki (seeing him up in 8th before his stop was great!). And to cap it all off he made a positive comment post-race! :O

    I guess Monaco, where he’s always been so strong in years gone by, will be a good test of whether he’s still got what it takes.



    I always lumped Jarno in with Giancarlo. Both appeared about the same time, both Italian, both started out at Minardi, and worked their way up into top teams, but their stinits at the top teams came at the wrong time.

    I wouldn’t say they didn’t manage to show their full potential, because I believe they did. They won a handful of races, a fair smattering of podiums, plenty of points, but nothing more. Their both number 2’s, and certainly not champion material. Jarno should have done what Fisico did, left when the going was… well, the best that could be expected, rather than fizzling out at Lotus, which he really is doing.



    Fisichella was with Renault in their championship years, I don’t think that’s the wrong time! I assume you mean because he’d been around for nearly 10 years by then, but so had Button when he became world champion. I do think maybe Fisichella had passed his peak by then, but also that he was just generally not up to challenging for a world championship.



    It was the wrong time because of who he had as his team-mate!



    I have no idea in all honesty. Maybe it’s the tyres or maybe his head has dropped a bit (although personally I think he’d just quit if he really was miserable). However, he has seemed to have the majority of car failures at Lotus so does he really ever have a chance to shine? Heikki was hyped up a lot last year but really their qualifying was quite close. I’m willing to reserve judgement on Jarno for a while this year because of the switch to Pirelli’s but I hope he ups his game soon.

    As for a younger driver it really depends on the driver but the lack of testing time would be stacked against them in they were a newbie. I think though that Lotus are doing better with Trulli than they would be with a rookie. Even when Jarno’s off his game he still has a vast amount of experience which Lotus need so I still think Lotus benefits from him more than he benefits from Lotus. I’ve always had a massive soft spot for Jarno and his qualifying laps can be utterly magical so I hope he bounces back soon.



    Time to hang up the gloves and make way for some fresh blood. His last decent drive was Suzuka 2009. For toyota



    In 2010 Jarno and Heikki were evenly matched, with the Italian often prevailing in qualifying and the Finn often prevailing in races. This year he says he has had problems every session, but he does look worse than last year. I feel sorry for him as I think he has (or should I say had) a great talent which was hidden by his cars’ uncompetitiveness. It’s a good thing he remained because if only young drivers went to low-field teams then they would never develop, and he had just shown good qualities in 2009 and therefore he had to try and repeat them in 2010 with a new team, but that was obviously impossible. He frequently beat his team mates and he should have deserved more success in F1 (I rate him higher than Fisichella) and he still has what an F1 driver needs, so he should stay until the end of this year, and, if he beats Heikki, even next year.



    Jarno Trulli was greatly demotivated when he was beaten by Fisichella in Spa 2009

    Odd race to bring up I know, but everyone knew that Badoer’s seat was up for grabs and both the Italians were gunning for it. Every Italian racing driver wants to race for Ferrari.

    Not getting the Ferrari seat in 2009 hurt him badly. and he has been totally demotivated as he knows he wont win a race (unless there is a miracle) in the brief time he has left in F1.



    Ajokay – I’m glad I’m not the only one to have done that with the two Italians!

    I used to like Trulli, loved the idea he has a vinyard and he came across well in interviews. However after his ridiculous behaviour at the 2009 Brazilian GP I reckon that that was the sure-fire end of him as a top-line racing driver and I wasn’t overly impressed with it.

    Now I don’t particularly rate Liuzzi and now that Fisi is essentially retired and Jarno will head the same way too, I’m hoping a new Italian comes into the sport soon! (And before some smart-arse says so, Di Resta is from Bathgate, not Brescia!)

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