Jarno Trulli has given a veiled reference that there is 'maybe one' person who is keen to see him leave Toyota F1 at the end of the campaign – the same team member, he admitted, who 'wants to denigrate me through the media...'
In recent weeks, whilst 'silly season' speculation has ramped up in the wake of Fernando Alonso's belated confirmation at Ferrari in 2010, Toyota is steadfastly refusing to give any indication as to whether it intends to retain either Trulli or highly-rated young team-mate Timo Glock next year.
Indeed, to the contrary, Toyota Motorsport President John Howett has made audacious noises about being confident of bidding for former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen's sought-after services – as the Englishman revealed that the Cologne-based outfit has 'put money on the table' in a bid to secure the Finn's prized signature [see separate story – click here
Moreover, Howett has admitted that 'there is a very strong probability' that F1 veteran Trulli's contract will not be extended into a sixth consecutive season with the big-budget Japanese manufacturer – with a dispute over salary believed to be at the heart of the impasse, much like with newly-crowned F1 World Champion Jenson Button at Brawn GP.
The 57-year-old has similarly been less-than-complimentary about Glock's performances, suggesting in the wake of the German's impressive runner-up spot in the Singapore Grand Prix last month that the TF109 has had the potential to do that in considerably more races, with the implicit undertone being that the drivers are not up to the job.
“We have a car that is more regularly capable of being on the podium and much closer to the top this year,” Howett had asserted. “We are not delivering, and there are things beyond the team and the chassis. Honestly speaking, we feel that [second place] could have been the result in other races if we could qualify in that position. I am sorry, but it is very a tough life, and our job is to deliver results.”
Trulli has now responded to his boss' persistent criticisms, and after taking the team out for dinner in São Paulo over the weekend of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos – to celebrate his superb second-place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka a fortnight earlier – he gave vent to his frustrations.
“There were 80 or so people there,” the Italian is quoted as having said on former ITV-F1
commentator James Allen's internet blog, “and you would struggle to find one who did not want me at the team next year. Well, maybe one...
“I have an agreement with [team principal] Tadashi Yamashina, who has asked me to wait until 15 November, which is when Toyota will decide its own future in F1 – and I intend to respect it. For that reason, I haven't really been looking at other solutions. Now I don't know if Toyota will want to keep me or not, if there is someone who wants to denigrate me through the media...”
Should Trulli indeed be given the push, 'other solutions' could well include a switch to F1 2010 newcomer Lotus, with the Pescara native having established a strong relationship with the Norfolk-based concern's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne from when the pair worked together closely at Jordan, Renault and Toyota – but the 35-year-old's preference, it is understood, is to remain put to reap the rewards of all his hard work at Toyota over the years, rather than effectively having to start again from scratch as he inarguably now approaches the twilight of his long and successful career at the highest level.
With financial discussions reaching deadlock in a number of teams – a consequence of last year's debilitating global credit crunch, which has hit the automotive industry particularly hard – just one race from the end of the 2009 campaign, only eleven of the 26 available seats for 2010 have been filled.