In a race full of incident, Jarno Trulli probably came off worse than anyone in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai today, after being rear-ended by the BMW-Sauber of Robert Kubica into the final corner, with the speed differential of the two cars destroying the Toyota's back section on the spot. Both drivers agreed afterwards that the weather conditions had been 'dangerous', with aquaplaning a constant threat and precious little visibility to be had anywhere.
Having started sixth, Trulli soon found himself grappling for grip on the water-logged track surface, falling into the clutches of the baying pack behind and gradually slipping down the order and outside the top ten. With his lap times some way off the leading pace, the Italian was entering the final corner on lap 17 when Kubica behind lost control of his F1.08 on standing water and smashed into the back of the slowing Toyota at unabated speed.
It was an incident that removed the 34-year-old Pescara native from a race in which he had been aiming to secure a strong result to honour the victims of the tragic earthquake in his home region of the Abruzzo earlier this month – but, most importantly, one from which both drivers happily emerged unscathed.
“That was not a good day for me,” reflected Trulli, who has still to register any points in China in five appearances there. “The conditions were very difficult; there was a lot of standing water and lots of aquaplaning. When the safety car came in I made a solid start and my pace was okay in the early laps, but then I started struggling for grip.
“The pace just wasn't there and the longer it went on the more ground I lost. On lap 17 I just felt a big hit from behind and I lost my rear wing. I made it back to the pits, but we couldn't continue. Still, my pace yesterday shows we're close to the front, so now we must hope for better fortunes in Bahrain next weekend.”
“Jarno struggled to make the most of his strong grid position today,” mused the Cologne-based outfit's team principal Tadashi Yamashina, “so we will have to check the data to find out what went wrong. Still, his qualifying performance was good so I'm sure he will do his best to make the podium again in the next race. We still have our spirit to win and we will fight again in Bahrain.”
Kubica, for his part, went on to take the chequered flag an unlucky 13th, as BMW's early season woes show few signs of disappearing anytime soon. The Pole was sorry for the coming-together, but insistent that the circumstances meant there were accidents waiting to happen all around the circuit.
“Driving was very dangerous today,” the man from Kraków underlined. “We had aquaplaning nearly everywhere and the lack of visibility was a disaster. There were quite a lot of situations when I couldn't see anything. All this also caused my heavy accident with Jarno.
“When Jarno braked into the corner I hit some standing water. Although I hit the brakes very hard the car still accelerated. I went quite high into the air after hitting his rear tyre, but fortunately nobody was hurt. After coming to the pits we had to change the front wing a second time as I felt some vibration and massively lost grip. This ruined my race.”
“There is not much to say about this grand prix,” concurred a frustrated BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen. “From bad starting positions both our drivers were involved in collisions under these rainy conditions. The result is zero points. All we can do is put this race behind us and concentrate on Bahrain.”