Jarno Trulli has admitted that although he had not necessarily anticipated miracles from F1 2010 newcomer Lotus Racing in the team's maiden campaign of top flight competition this year, he had 'expected at least to drive' – but whilst the experienced Italian bemoans the fact that 'everything happens on my car and my car only', he remains convinced the vast majority of the potential is yet to be unlocked.
In contrast to team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, who has taken the chequered flag on three occasions thus far this season – coming in 15th in the Bahrain curtain-raiser, 13th in Australia and 14th last time out in China, only failing to finish in Malaysia where the T127's Achilles' heel of hydraulic woes put paid to the Finn's efforts – Trulli has only done so once, limping across the line with an ailing car in Sepang, even if he was also statistically classified after stopping on the last lap in Sakhir.
That frustration for the veteran of some 219 grand prix starts since 1997 is now beginning to tell, with the Pescara native conceding that whilst he had never expected 2010 to be a walk in the park with the start-up Anglo/Malaysian operation, his Lotus switch to-date has fallen some way short of what he had hoped for.
“I knew that it wouldn't be easy, that everything would be new and that we would need time, [but] I had expected at least to drive,” he told Autosprint
magazine of the persistent reliability issues that have plagued his challenge so far. “Instead, after four races I did not start once and when I got to the finish, it was because it was decided I should take the chequered flag but in far from ideal conditions.
“Bad luck seems to persevere on my car – everything happens on my car and my car only – so to this day, my expectations have not been met. I knew it would be tough, but I practically haven't driven yet. I'll pass judgement at the end of the year.”
That notwithstanding, the former Monaco Grand Prix-winner did re-affirm his conviction that Lotus Racing is the most competitive of the new arrivals on the grand prix grid, with significant capacity to improve and move forwards – and requiring only time and patience to be able to do so.
“We operate like a real team in the top series, but unfortunately we are only at ten per cent of our potential because of a lack of time,” the 35-year-old explained. “There's no testing, and the racing weekend is the only chance to test and oil the structure. For us, this is our apprenticeship year.
“The thing Lotus has lacked is time – the main culprit for our difficulties. Had we had time to programme everything more in advance, we would have better prepared the structure, the car, the gearbox, our hydraulics system and everything you need to start well. All this work is being done now, race after race.”
Lotus only officially received an entry into the 2010 F1 World Championship last September, three months later than fellow debutants Virgin and Hispania – then Campos – and the ultimately abortive USF1 project.