Throughout 2010, Lotus Racing star Jarno Trulli seemed to act as a magnet for just about any reliability gremlin going, be it in practice, qualifying or the grands prix themselves. Heading into the F1 2011 World Championship campaign, the name of the team may have changed and the Renault-powered T128 may be a much more competitive proposition than was its predecessor, but unfortunately for the experienced Italian, his atrociously bad luck still shows no signs of shifting.
The 36-year-old had completed just five laps of his scheduled morning run around Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya today (Thursday) when Team Lotus' new baby gave up the ghost on him, and a nigh-on six-hour delay to rectify a gearbox pressure problem and water leak meant Trulli would not get out again all day – but putting a positive gloss on proceedings, he is convinced the potential is there.
“Obviously it's a bit frustrating that the gearbox issue cut short my time on-track this morning,” the former Monaco Grand Prix-winner acknowledged, “but we've now got some time back in the factory to fix the problems, so I'm looking forward to heading to Australia and beginning the fight with the midfield teams.”
That midfield-threatening potential, indeed, was highlighted by team-mate Heikki Kovalainen in the afternoon, for despite the Finn benefitting from less than two hours in the cockpit and consequently completing only 40 laps, he set a best time quick enough for seventh place of the twelve drivers present, just 2.2 seconds adrift of Sergio Pérez's benchmark for Sauber. Performance-wise at least, everything is nicely on-track, the 29-year-old revealed.
“That was a pretty good afternoon for me,” he reported. “Jarno had some problems this morning with one of those things that's hard to predict, but the team managed to get it sorted for the afternoon and we were able to work through the whole plan. I can feel it coming together well – we'll sort out the reliability, and I think we are just where we want to be.”
“A difficult morning for Jarno with the gearbox change,” summarised the Anglo/Malaysian outfit's chief technical officer, Mike Gascoyne. “We had put a new 'box on overnight, but saw a problem with it this morning so had to change it during the session.
“Unfortunately, a water leak then meant that Jarno was not able to complete any real running, but this afternoon we made some real progress with Heikki. He was able to work through a programme on the tyre options and the blown diffuser, so after a tricky morning it was a very positive end to the day.”
To see Thursday's testing times in full, click here