Jarno Trulli has insisted that Toyota was far more competitive than its results in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring made it appear – as the Italian's second-quickest lap time on race day was masked by his 17th-place finish at the chequered flag.
On 'home' turf, despite showing well in practice, Toyota's weekend was in reality undone on Saturday afternoon, when a disastrous qualifying session in the tricky conditions left Trulli a lowly 14th – only the second time in nine races so far this year that the experienced Italian has missed the cut for the Q3 top ten shoot-out – and team-mate Timo Glock, not for the first time this season, right at the very back of the grid.
From there, though, hopes were high for a race day resurgence, with both drivers opting for a heavy initial fuel load in an effort to make up some ground. Trulli's bid, however, was dashed on only the opening lap, when he was hit by Williams' Kazuki Nakajima, and though the Pescara native would lap on the front-running pace throughout, the damage had already been done.
“The race was over for me at the first corner,” acknowledged the Abruzzese, who turned 35 only the following day. “There were several cars fighting for position, but I suddenly saw another car go past me and jump over my front wing because there was no space. I couldn't see that part of my wing, but I could feel there was something wrong so I came in and the team changed it.
“After that the car felt good, but unfortunately as soon as I caught up with the field I was always stuck in traffic and couldn't do anything. When I had a clear track ahead of me later in the race I put in some quick laps and was second-fastest overall, but it was too late.”
Glock, for his part, fought hard from a pit-lane start, and had moved into the top ten by half-distance by dint of being the only driver in the field on a one-stop strategy. The young German would frustratingly cross the finish line less than three seconds shy of Heikki Kovalainen who occupied the final points-paying position in his McLaren-Mercedes, having impressively made up no fewer than eleven places along the way.
“In general I was reasonably satisfied with my performance,” underlined the 27-year-old home hero, despite only just getting to within two seconds of Trulli's fastest lap time. “I started from the pit-lane and finished ninth on a track where overtaking is very difficult. We had a good strategy after what happened in qualifying, but unfortunately I had some traffic in the first stint which cost me time. I only had around four laps without traffic all day, but when I had a clear track I was quick.
“If it hadn't been for the traffic, I would have had a better chance at scoring points. In the last stint I was quicker than Kovalainen, but I just couldn't get past. I pushed really hard and tried to overtake twice, but I couldn't manage it. We need to qualify higher so we can fight at the front in the race, and we will work on this for the next grand prix.”
“Unfortunately we couldn't make the most of the race, despite having the potential in the car to get a much better result,” summarised the Cologne-based outfit's team principal Tadashi Yamashina. “The race was decided for us in qualifying; starting from where we did made it extremely difficult to finish in the points even though the car had quite good performance, as you can see from Jarno's second-fastest race lap.
“Now we have to work towards the Hungarian Grand Prix, where we will fight to achieve a significantly better result. The Hungaroring is a track which could suit our car, and we have a good record there historically, so we will do our very best to get back among the leading teams.”