He may have hit the 200 grand prix mark in the Melbourne curtain-raiser, but when the prickly question of retirement looms, Jarno Trulli is adamant that 'the fire still burns' and that he will not be satisfied until he has delivered Toyota its breakthrough F1 victory.
The Italian has competed for the big-budget Japanese manufacturer since the end of 2004, taking a brace of pole positions and racing to six podiums – but no win, despite Toyota boasting arguably the largest budget of any of the ten teams.
Indeed, the Cologne-based outfit has now made 130 starts in the top flight since its first appearance back in 2002, and its long-term participation has frequently been cast into doubt should that winless run continue. In 2009, however, the team has appeared more competitive than at perhaps any previous stage in its F1 history, with three rostrum finishes for Trulli and team-mate Timo Glock and third position in the constructors' standings just shy of the halfway mark.
The man from Pescara, indeed, seems to be mirroring his collection of wines in improving with age, performing better with every passing year. Though he is – at almost 35 and in his 13th season – the third-oldest and third-most experienced driver on the grand prix grid, he is adamant that retirement is the last thing on his mind.
“Racing is part of my life,” the former Monaco Grand Prix winner told British newspaper the Daily Express
. “If you take this away I would have trouble, because the fire is too much – it still burns. I will stay on here because I have delivered the first podium and pole position already for the team – so my next target is clear.
“The day I say I want to be home or I am tired, or I don't care, that is the time to stop. At the moment, if there is a race when something goes wrong, I still go mad because I am not happy. I really want to succeed.”