One of the more popular terms used in F1 nowadays is the ‘Trulli Train’. While Trulli is known for his defensive prowess, he’s also a qualifying expert and unbelievably quick on a low fuel load.
His years with Renault and Toyota have seen him more at the front than in the past.
2002: Trulli had enough of Jordan and its woes and approached his friend (and manager) Flavio Briatore. Flavio offered him a seat at the newly-rebranded Renault team, something that Jarno was glad to accept.
His season had a promising (if frustrating) start, spinning off while running second at Australia due to mechanical problems. His best finishes were at Monaco and Monza, finishing fourth both times.
2003: This was Trulli’s best season to date, with ten points-scoring finishes. This included a podium for third in Germany, his best result for four years. Although he was passed by Michael Schumacher, the German suffered a puncture while helped him get back onto the podium.
However, throughout the season as a whole, Trulli was seriously outclassed by new boy (and good friend) Fernando Alonso. The young Spaniard took the first win for the new Renault team in Hungary.
2004: This was a tale of two halves. The first half of the year saw fantastic form for Trulli. That was never more apparent than in Monaco, where he took his first pole position. Martin Brundle called that lap “the best of his life”. Here’s why.
During the race, it was more of the same. With Michael Schumacher not in contention (a rarity that year), he only needed to hold off the BAR of Jenson Button. He did it well, and finally took his first career victory.
Things were only supposed to get better. Instead, it all went downhill for Trulli and Renault. A driveshaft failure in Canada, losing third on the final corner in France, and a shunt in Britain all contributed to the souring of the Trulli-Renault relationship. But no one was more surprised than Trulli when he was suddenly booted out at the end of the European season, with three races to go.
It was a good thing, then, that Trulli’s team for 2005, Toyota, gave him an early debut. He first raced a Toyota here at the Japanese Grand Prix.
2005: Trulli’s first full season with Toyota got off to a very good start. He finished on the podium thrice in the first five races. He also scored Toyota’s first-ever podium at Sepang, finishing second to Alonso’s Renault.
However, his form began to slip soon after. He scored pole at Indianapolis with his car on fumes, but more often than not, he had to settle for regular points finishes. It was during this time that the term “Trulli Train” became popular, with Trulli being known to hold up faster cars for entire stints.
Here’s one example at Monaco that year. A Trulli train was actually catching someone, for once: Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault. But an overoptimistic attempt by Trulli broke his suspension, and allowed everyone behind him back through.
2006: It was tougher going for Trulli this year. Team mate Ralf Schumacher outscored him that season, and couldn’t do better than a handful of points finishes. This battling drive to sixth in Canada helped to better his morale, but in the end, much was left to be desired that year.
This is the first of five parts covering the race in full.
2007: In terms of finishes, this was Trulli’s worst season since 1998. Only the new points system gave him more points. His first points finish was here in Malaysia. Only three more would follow in Bahrain, the US, and Brazil.
2008: After two disappointing seasons, Toyota began their climb back to respectability. Trulli, too, returned to form with a podium in France. And it was a toughly contested one, too – he had to hold off the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen to get it. Trulli also had nine other points-scoring finishes. He and new team mate Timo Glock seemed like a very solid pairing.
2009: Toyota were one of the three teams that had the double-diffuser on from Australia. Trulli took full advantage and finished third. But the end of the race marked much confusion as to whether he or Lewis Hamilton should have 3rd…
Trulli has been outperformed by Glock so far this year, but the wily veteran has a few tricks under his sleeve. Remember too that Toyota have yet to win their first Grand Prix – and it was Trulli who won here at Monaco five years ago. Can Trulli finally bring Toyota to the winners circle this weekend?
Read the first part of this series: Jarno Trulli’s F1 career in video part 1