Jarno Trulli has confessed that he came close to agreeing terms to join Sauber for F1 2010 before having his head turned by newcomer Lotus – but he suggests the former BMW operation may well have its work cut out to make an impression this season.
The experienced Italian has revealed that he had already decided to end his five-year relationship with Toyota before the big-budget Japanese manufacturer announced that it was pulling the plug on its top flight involvement late last year.
Whilst he has since gone on to pledge his commitment to arguably the most promising and well-advanced of the four new teams due to swell the grid for the Bahrain Grand Prix curtain-raiser in Sakhir in just under two months' time, the 35-year-old – a veteran of some 216 starts at the highest level since making his debut with Minardi back in 1997 – has admitted that he did hold negotiations with Peter Sauber at a formative stage, before coming to the ultimate conclusion that without BMW's support any longer, the Hinwil-based operation could be set to struggle in 2010.
“I had contact with Peter Sauber, that's true,” Trulli – one of the drivers strongly rumoured to have been on a seven-strong initial shortlist for one of the two Sauber seats this year – told Swiss newspaper Blick
. “[It would have been a] very interesting thing.
“He (Sauber) is quite unlike any other in this circus – Peter Sauber is clean and honest – but with the departure of BMW it will be harder for his team than before.”
The Pescara native went on to describe his new Lotus project – in which he will rejoin forces with esteemed technical director Mike Gascoyne, with whom he has worked closely and well in the past at Jordan, Renault and Toyota – as 'exciting' and with 'great ambitions and a lot of power behind it, also financially'.
Sauber has secured the services of highly-rated Interlagos and Abu Dhabi star Kamui Kobayashi for the forthcoming campaign, and is understood to be evaluating between Ferrari test driver Giancarlo Fisichella – who raced for the Swiss outfit back in 2004 – and long-time McLaren-Mercedes counterpart Pedro de la Rosa to occupy the second cockpit.