Jarno Trulli believes the new TF109 is 'the best Toyota he has driven' in Formula 1 – as the veteran Italian eyes 'another step forward' for the Japanese manufacturer in what will be its eighth season of competition in the top flight in 2009.
Trulli notched up 31 points for Toyota last year – more than he succeeded in scoring in 2006 and 2007 put together – with a best finish of an emotional third place in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours, as well as 14 top ten qualifying performances and even an appearance on the front row of the starting grid in the Brazilian Grand Prix finale at Interlagos.
Following encouraging pre-season testing form in the wake of the sport's dramatic rule changes for the forthcoming campaign, the man from Pescara is confident that this year he can do even better still.
“I am totally fired-up for this season and I am feeling very positive about our chances,” the 34-year-old – who will make his 200th grand prix start in Melbourne this coming weekend on the twelfth anniversary of his F1 debut Down Under with Minardi – is quoted as having said by AFP
“The TF109 is the best Toyota I have driven in pre-season testing. It feels stable and gives the driver confidence – but more importantly it seems to be pretty quick, even though it's hard to make too many judgements based on testing.
“We made a big step last year, proving we can fight for podiums and finish regularly in the top six – so I am hoping for another step forward this year.”
Those hopes are shared by young team-mate Timo Glock, who impressed many in the F1 paddock last year over the course of his first full campaign in the uppermost echelon, racing strongly and even giving Trulli – a renowned qualifying expert – a run for his money on Saturday afternoons in the second half of the season.
Not only that, but the former GP2 Series Champion also registered the Cologne-based outfit's best result of the year with second place to McLaren-Mercedes' Heikki Kovalainen in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Now he wants to go one spot better still in 2009.
“It's very exciting to be going to the first race this year,” the recently-turned 27-year-old enthused, “because the big changes to the technical regulations for 2009 give Toyota a good opportunity to fight at the front.