Gascoyne: Trulli has Matured

Jarno Trulli's outstanding form at Toyota this season is further proof that he has matured as a Formula One driver, according to technical director Mike Gascoyne

Gascoyne: Trulli has Matured

The Italian has been erratic in the past, impressive in qualifying but fading strangely in the cut and thrust of racing.

His first Grand Prix victory for Renault at Monaco last season proved a breakthrough and Gascoyne said after Trulli finished second in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix that Toyota were now reaping the rewards.

"I think Jarno matured as a driver last year," he said. "He always had the one-lap pace but people said he doesn't have the race pace or he's inconsistent.

"At the start of last year he was in a position where Fernando (Alonso) had won a race, he was (Renault boss) Flavio (Briatore)'s boy and Jarno was on one year left on his contract. In the first half of the year he (Trulli) blew him away and that was a sign of Jarno maturing as a driver."

Trulli's form took a dive after last year's French Grand Prix, where he lost third place at the final corner to Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello and was then embroiled in contract negotiations. He joined Toyota for the last two races of 2004.

Old Jarno

Trulli started on the front row in this year's Australian season-opener after rain played havoc with qualifying, but faded during the race to ninth as his tyres blistered. In Malaysia he again qualified second and stayed there to secure the first podium of Toyota's Formula One history.

"I think what you see now is just Jarno as he is," said Gascoyne. "Of course (in Australia) everyone said 'Oh, he's slipped off the pace, that's the old Jarno.'

"Then you see the last two races and that was the Jarno that drove until Magny-Cours and the contractual thing. That was the Jarno you saw last year. To come into a new team with Ralf (Schumacher) and do that, that's a sign of the maturity that Jarno has now got. You don't do that by luck."

Ralf, younger brother of Ferrari's World Champion Michael, moved to Toyota from Williams at the end of last year and finished fourth on Sunday. Although the German has been beaten by Trulli in three out of three races, Gascoyne came to his defence.

"I think Ralf actually drove a stronger race because he had a much more difficult race," he said of Bahrain. "Jarno's race was easy. Ralf's was very difficult. He made one mistake in qualifying, a small mistake but significant.

"He got it up to sixth (on the grid) and finished fourth. I think you have to give credit where credit's due. Yes he's behind his teammate, yes his race was more dramatic but he had a much harder race to drive. That five points has moved the team closer to Renault."

Renault lead the Championship with 36 points to Toyota's 25.

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