His new employer may lack the financial wherewithal of his previous one, but former Monaco Grand Prix-winner Jarno Trulli has asserted that Lotus 'can be more effective' than Toyota when it makes its grand prix bow in F1 2010 – and that the combined experience of those who have been recruited by the team will serve to drive it forwards.
The Italian has departed arguably the richest of the F1 teams for one of its poorest this season, with Toyota having been persistently criticised for its lack of ability to break its duck at the highest level despite never wanting for funds. Trulli's ex team-mate Timo Glock has since confirmed that the Japanese manufacturer all-too often endeavoured to resolve a problem simply by throwing money at it – and the bigger the problem, the more money was thrown [see separate story – click here
That, the Pescara native affirms, will emphatically not
be the case at Lotus, which aside from having secured his services, has Malaysian backing courtesy of team founder and principal Tony Fernandes, another race-winner on its driving strength in the shape of McLaren-Mercedes refugee Heikki Kovalainen, the highly-regarded Mike Gascoyne heading up the technical team and erstwhile Toyota engineers Dieter Gass and Gianluca Pisanello having followed Trulli from Cologne to Norfolk.
“Lotus is smaller, but operationally it can be more effective than Toyota,” the 35-year-old told Finnish newspaper Turun Sanomat
, “even though it remains far from Toyota in terms of resources. We have a lot of experience and co-operation with this project; the only shortage is time.”
“Considering we're a new team, we're in a better position than I had hoped for,” he added, speaking to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
. “There's no misapprehension – we're focussing on a low-profile kind of season, to try and be in the points now and again.
“[The Hingham factory] is pretty new and seems very modern. Le Mans MG cars used to be constructed here. We have everything here, including facilities to manufacture carbon fibre; we also have an excellent wind tunnel, which I visited on Monday. The first aim is to generate dignity for this team called Lotus – it's a long-term project of three-to-five years.”
The Anglo-Malaysian outfit's 2010 challenger will be unveiled to the public on 12 February in London. Trulli is subsequently due conduct the car's shakedown at Silverstone the following day, after which it will be transported to Jerez in southern Spain for four days of intensive testing from 17-20 February.
Acknowledging that the face of F1 is rapidly changing, with a renewed injection of independent teams such as Lotus and the loss of a number of manufacturers over the last twelve months – including Toyota, for whom he competed for five seasons – the Abruzzese recognised that 'business as usual' no longer applies, and suggested a new era could now be upon us.
“Apart from Ferrari, the only really big constructor is Mercedes,” he reflected. “We must all get used to the new F1.”