Toyota has admitted that it will begin this afternoon's British Grand Prix at Silverstone with 'genuine reason for optimism' after Jarno Trulli shone once again in qualifying to take fourth spot on the grid – and now the Italian is hoping for a change of fortunes on race day around a track that has never really shone upon him in the past.
The outcome – just over half a second shy of pole position in the final reckoning – marks the Pescara native's third-highest starting position of the 2009 campaign to-date, and his fifth top six qualifying performance from the opening eight races of the year.
In twelve previous starts around the Northants circuit, though, Trulli has yet to finish any better than sixth – but after lapping comfortably inside the top four throughout the qualifying hour and at one stage looking like the only man capable of challenging the Red Bull Racing supremacy at the head of the pecking order, the 34-year-old firmly intends to do something about that this time around.
“We had a very good run in qualifying,” he affirmed, “so I am pleased with the result and I am very happy with the car. We have made some aerodynamic upgrades for this race which have improved our performance, and the gap to the fastest cars in low-fuel qualifying was quite small, which is a positive sign.
“The team has done a great job this weekend, because from the first practice session the car felt strong and was very competitive. This has continued all through the weekend so far. Maybe my lap in Q3 could have been slightly quicker and we could have made it into the top three, but in the end I think we are where we deserve to be. I have to admit I don't normally enjoy Silverstone and I haven't had much luck here, so I am really happy to be at the front of the grid for what could be the last grand prix here for a while.”
Team-mate Timo Glock made it two TF109s inside the top ten for the fourth time this season, though the young German was never able to match Trulli's scintillating speed, winding up four tenths of a second adrift in eighth place as he grappled with tyre-warming issues in the comparatively cool conditions.
“The result is pretty good,” related the 26-year-old from Lindenfels, “and I have to be happy about being in the top eight because I was not sure it would be possible after practice on Friday. I have been struggling a bit with the car, and compared to Jarno I haven't been able to achieve the same lap times.
“The problem for me has been getting temperature into the tyres, and that has caused me to struggle for grip at times. I've not been completely happy all weekend, but the result [in qualifying] looks decent so I hope I can score points.”
“All-in-all practice and qualifying went well,” summarised the big-budget Japanese concern's senior general chassis manager Pascal Vasselon, “and we have a good chance for the race. We are not on the front row, but we are in a strong position. It is also satisfying to see we are much closer to the fastest cars than we expected after Friday practice, so we are very much looking forward to the race because we believe we have a very strong strategy and genuine reason for optimism.
“The tyre situation at this race is a bit more standard in terms of one-lap pace and degradation, so we should not see too many different strategies in the race. Also I have to say we are happy with the updates we have brought here, and I would like to thank the people at the factory back in Cologne for all the hard work done to achieve this.”