Jarno Trulli has admitted that trying to get Caterham up to speed in F1 is the toughest challenge of his long Formula One career.
With 13 seasons, approaching a dozen podiums and a Monaco victory under his belt, the veteran Italian switched to the new Tony Fernandes-headed team – then called Lotus – in 2010. Trulli, now 37, was a refugee of the defunct Toyota project, a team with arguably F1’s biggest annual budgets last decade. He had switched there from Renault just before Fernando Alonso took that team to back-to-back titles, and also had experience with smaller teams Jordan, Prost and Minardi.
But Trulli says Caterham has been the toughest of all. Last season, for example, he struggled for pace with a power steering system he could not adapt to.
“It became a crucial problem,” he told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “You do not have the resources and as a small team there are more important tasks. I have to admit that it was a problem that has affected me with other teams as well. But they were bigger and we could resolve it quickly.
“People don’t realise how difficult it is to start with a team from zero, as we did. At the beginning of my career I was with Minardi, but this has been much more difficult. Each wrong turn you make is felt for a very long time.”
It is rumoured Trulli, despite his signed 2012 contract, could lose the seat before Melbourne to a sponsor-backed driver. He denied that speculation and said he is expecting a much better season in 2012.
“I have confidence in the team,” said Trulli. “Over the years we have made a lot of progress. We have made great steps forward even if from the outside that hasn’t always been seen.
“The goal for this season is to be better than 2011 – we have more resources, more experience and more people. We were looking for points last season; now the goal is to fight for points in the middle group.”