Jarno Trulli will be racing with an extra purpose than usual in this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, as he bids to honour the memory and raise vital funds for the victims of the catastrophic earthquake that struck his home region of the Abruzzo early last week.
Almost 300 people were killed in the tragedy that happened in and around the ancient city of L'Aquila on 6 April, just 100 kilometres from Trulli's birthplace of Pescara, and the Italian has set up a new charity entitled 'Abruzzo in the Heart' in an effort to help out those suffering from the disaster. A sensitive man, it is clear that what happened has deeply affected the 34-year-old.
“Hopefully it will be a good weekend as I have an important reason to get a good result,” he explained. “As you can see on my overalls I am wearing a message for my new charity campaign, 'Abruzzo in the Heart'. You all probably have heard about the dramatic situation in the region after the earthquake, and being part of the Abruzzo I wanted to do something special.
“I want to support the people, and to do that I gave up one of my sponsors to give visibility and raise money. I am going to ask the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers' Association), the drivers, teams, everyone, to join me. This is not just asking about money; I am raising money, but I want to ask people to donate not just money, but items [too].
“It took a few days before really realising what was going on, because honestly it is a dramatic situation there. Nearly 300 people died, which is not so many compared to what really happened. We don't have a city or villages anymore; everything has gone, blown away. More than 100,000 people have been left with nothing – no houses, no jobs, no families. It must be really hard.
“I haven't been back yet because I haven't had time with travelling and work. I will go back just after these two flyaway races. At the same time, I was trying to think what to do and I believe that as I am from the Abruzzo and this is an Italian business and because I work around the world, I just wanted to show everyone or let everyone know what's going on there. There isn't much difference between the tsunami and the earthquake in the Abruzzo; it's a dramatic situation, and I want to make my contribution.
“Eventually, the final target will be to raise money first of all, and then at the end of the season see how much we have and try to go there and rebuild schools – everything basically has to be rebuilt. I just want to try really hard. For once in my life, I will probably go and knock on everyone's door to raise some money.”
Trulli has certainly enjoyed a strong start to the current Formula 1 campaign, finishing up on the podium from the pit-lane in the curtain-raiser Down Under in Melbourne and following that up with an inspired front row grid slot and fourth place in the rains of Sepang a week later.
What's more, with the diffuser row now having been quite literally defused by the FIA Court of Appeal earlier this week, Toyota is no longer racing under a cloud – even if the Cologne-based outfit does still have some work to do if it is to take the fight to surprise pace-setters Brawn GP, and Trulli has rarely enjoyed the best of fortunes in Shanghai, missing the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in 2004 and failing to trouble the scorers in the four subsequent editions.