Jarno Trulli has admitted that his move to F1 2010 newcomer Lotus for the forthcoming world championship campaign was initially a 'compromise' and might be viewed in some quarters as a step back following the best part of a decade driving for manufacturer entries in the top flight – but the experienced Italian insists that he immediately felt 'more than at home' in his new surroundings.
To switch from an outfit with arguably the largest budget in the field – albeit perhaps not the best way of spending it – in Toyota, to one with practically the lowest given that Lotus initially signed up on the premise of a strictly-enforced budget cap that has since been postponed, must be some culture shock, but seasoned pro that he is, Trulli reveals that he has taken it all in his stride, and if anything has returned 'home' having worked with many of his new colleagues in previous teams.
Not only that, but after spending more than five seasons at a squad that seemed to adopt the approach of simply throwing ever-greater sums of money at a problem in an effort to resolve it – and failed to break its grand prix duck in almost 150 appearances, despite on paper benefitting from all the necessary attributes – the Pescara native is confident that things will be very different at his new employer, which for a start does not have any such financial luxury at its disposal. Minor miracles, though, need not always cost millions – and that is exactly what Trulli feels Lotus F1 can achieve in 2010.
“Formula 1 has changed, and there are hardly any manufacturers left anymore,” the 35-year-old told Crash.net Radio
, when asked about fears that he has taken a backwards step – or at the very least a risk – in joining a start-up operation at such an advanced stage of his grand prix career. “If you look back at last year, basically we lost four manufacturers – Honda, Toyota, BMW and Renault – so independent teams are the only way to go.
“I'm not trying to convince people that my choice is the perfect one, but given what was available in Formula 1, I think it was the best one. The team is full of very experienced personnel. When I visited the factory for the first time, everybody was there and I would say I knew 50 per cent of them already from having worked with them before, so I feel more than at home here!
“They are all very experienced, and I can see people smiling a lot even though we are running out of time, because the motivation is there and everybody wants to make it happen – this is very important. There is definitely some good experience behind the project, which convinced me that things are going to happen. At Lotus, things work in a different way, but everyone chooses the way they want to work.
“This is an independent team and a much smaller team and we are starting from scratch, but people are very motivated and you can make your own budget cap, to be honest – it's not a question of having a budget cap or not having one. Everyone can choose how much budget to run with at the moment, and Lotus has a good budget to be reasonably good and establish itself both during the first season and for the future.
“It's a long-term project, and the people here have a long business view. We have people who are very strong and know how to do things on the technical side, so I really hope that we can do some good things this year. It's not going to be as easy as it would have been at Toyota if Toyota had stayed, but it's the best compromise I could find. What we need is to be as efficient as possible and perform reasonably well in our first season. After that, we will see.”
Trulli will be partnered in 2010 by fellow former grand prix-winner and McLaren-Mercedes refugee Heikki Kovalainen, a man who is endeavouring to rebuild his somewhat battered reputation following two years spent as an effective punch bag for the Woking-based concern's favourite son Lewis Hamilton.