An elated and emotional Jarno Trulli has dedicated his rostrum finish in the French Grand Prix this weekend to former Toyota F1 team principal Ove Andersson, who was tragically killed in a rallying accident only 11 days ago.

The Italian - who knows Magny-Cours like that back of his hand from his days spent with Prost Grand Prix from 1997 to 1999 - produced a sublime performance in qualifying to put his TF108 fifth on the starting grid, what subsequently became fourth with Lewis Hamilton's ten-place demotion for his Canadian Grand Prix misdemeanour.

From there Trulli made a blistering start to vault past fellow second row sitter - and former team-mate - Fernando Alonso, and he would hold third place for virtually the whole of the 70 laps, despite coming under intense late-race pressure from both Heikki Kovalainen and erstwhile world championship leader Robert Kubica, both of whom were at the wheel of significantly faster cars.

Though Kovalainen very nearly found a way by on the penultimate tour, Trulli held his nerve and - unlike his error in the same race back in 2004, when he let Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello by in the very last turn - retained his position all the way to the chequered flag to hoist himself up to seventh in the drivers' title chase, 'best-of-the-rest' behind the drivers from the top three teams.

"What a great result and a great weekend by the whole team," the 33-year-old enthused afterwards. "We were pushing really hard because we wanted to dedicate this result to Ove Andersson, who has done so much for Toyota Motorsport.

"Today was a great race, hard and tough. We had good pace, even if we had to battle with some cars that were quicker than us. I had to fight really hard, but that is what people should expect both from myself and from Toyota.

"When the rain came at the end I had to take care because it's always difficult to judge how bad it is when you're in front, but I got back into a rhythm and had a wheel-to-wheel fight with Heikki, just like in go-karts.

"The team made no mistakes this weekend, from the people in the factory who made the new parts on the car to the mechanics who did perfect pit-stops today.

"There's still more to do, but today we can be very satisfied. The team is doing a great job, the car is much more competitive and everyone is motivated. Things are moving on."

Indeed, the early stages of the grand prix suggested it would once again be cause for a double celebration for the revitalised Japanese outfit, with team-mate Timo Glock making a similarly strong getaway from eighth on the grid to move up to sixth, only for the reigning GP2 Series Champion to suffer from graining following his first pit-stop and ultimately come home a disappointed eleventh, a lap down on the leaders and almost 15 seconds shy of the final points-paying position.

"That was a difficult day for me," confessed the young German, who took a career-best fourth place in Montreal only two weeks ago. "I made a good start, the car felt good for the first stint and I was able to push hard, but after the pit-stop I struggled to maintain the same pace because I had some tyre graining and I then had major understeer. That meant the car was sliding around for much of the race.

"It didn't work out for us in terms of strategy either. I lost ground at each of the pit-stops, and in the end we just dropped out of the points. Still, it's great for Jarno to take third place and the podium, a perfect result for him and the team. We have clearly made progress since the last test, and our pace means I am determined to come away with better results in the coming races."

Trulli's result has brought Toyota to within just a single marker of Red Bull Racing in the constructors' title chase, having registered more points than anyone apart from Ferrari and BMW-Sauber in the last two outings. The Cologne-based concern's motorsport president John Howett waxed lyrical about the former Monaco Grand Prix winner's showing afterwards, whilst underlining that the squad still has more work to do to close the gap on the performance side.

"This is a fantastic day for everyone involved with Toyota Motorsport," the Englishman stressed, clearly delighted with the team's first rostrum finish since Ralf Schumacher took the chequered flag third in the Australian Grand Prix more than two year ago. "It was our first podium for a long time so we dedicate it to Ove Andersson, who did so much for the team and will be greatly missed.

"Congratulations to everyone involved both at the factory and in the race and test teams who have worked hard to improve the car. We had a good test in Barcelona last week and today Jarno did a phenomenal job.

"It was an incredible battle in the closing laps, but Jarno is very experienced and it was a clean fight, which was good to see. When it started to rain he had to be cautious, but he did a fine job to keep Kovalainen behind.

"It was an encouraging weekend for Timo too, who did well in qualifying but was unlucky with traffic today. He suffered with understeer compared to Jarno, so we will have to investigate that. Both cars also made excellent starts from the dirty side of the grid, so we hope that can continue.

"Of course we must now keep pushing really hard because our pace is still not matching the front-runners, but we can be hugely satisfied with this result."