Q & A with Jarno Trulli

Four days after the Australian Grand Prix, Jarno Trulli is a happy man again, having been reinstated into third place after the stewards decided to remove the penalty given to the Italian

Q & A with Jarno Trulli

The controversy, however, is still ongoing, with the FIA saying that world champion Lewis Hamilton has misled the stewards in Australian.

AUTOSPORT heard Trulli's version of the events.

Q. What is your reaction to the decision of the stewards to give you third place?

Jarno Trulli: Well, I am happy. I am happy because I just wanted some justice, and I am happy I got it. I am happy for myself, for the team - and I have to thank the FIA because it does not happen very often that they reconsider something. It must have been really hard for them, but they had common sense to really try and understand what was going on. I have been always honest and it has paid off.

Q. So what happened between Australia and now?

JT: Nothing. We did not appeal. We did not do anything, and I did not make any further comments. I think the FIA was clever enough to understand the situation. They had a very busy end of the race, with so many accidents, and they now had a bit more evidence to understand the case. So they wanted to hear us again, and it just confirmed what happened in Australia as I didn't change my statement. That is it. I don't know what made them change their mind.

Q. Are you surprised that Lewis Hamilton has been excluded from the results?

JT: I don't know the evidence or what they investigated on. I cannot comment on it. I am just happy I got my position and what I did on the track. Honestly, it was a controversial end of the race and it was hard for anyone to understand. But again I would like to thank the FIA because they had the strength to reconsider the case, giving new evidence and understanding what was going on. I never lied, I was always honest in my statements and I never changed it.

Q. It was a crazy weekend in Australia.

JT: It was a troubled weekend. We pushed really hard to get the best possible result on track. We were all pleased, and we are still pleased with what we achieved last Sunday. Unfortunately we were left facing a controversial end to the race.

Q. There's a Youtube video of the incident when you went off. Can you talk us through what happened?

JT: It was my mistake when I went off. I was trying to slow down because this year we have a rule that you need to stick with a certain speed which is on the display. And on that particular part of the track I was caught out by a shadow.

We have the safety car line which gives you the exact time you have to do, so I was trying to respect that. I was trying to concentrate on that. I missed the braking point by a little bit with the cold tyres and I went a little bit wide. Obviously Lewis got me. Nothing wrong in that, because I obviously lost a position.

The problem came afterwards when, between turn 4 and turn 5, Lewis suddenly slowed down quite a lot. At this stage I didn't know why but my thought was that he was having trouble because he pulled over to the right side of the track, while he should have been on the left.

And he was slowing down more and more, so I overtook him at 80km/h. So we were basically stopped. And before overtaking him I went next to him to make sure that I was not breaking the rules. So what happened is that I went in front of him and I opened the radio to tell the team what was going on because I didn't want to get a penalty. And that's it. That's all I can say.

Q. The radio conversation is on Youtube now, and the team told you to stay behind him...

JT: I knew because I already had this problem before. I knew that I couldn't get the position, that's pretty clear. But if the car in front of you has a problem, like it looked from me... I didn't know what happened before, I just read what Lewis said to the press. At that stage it looked like he had mechanical troubles.

Q. Did the team tell you to give him his position back?

JT: At that moment, no. I called the team asked what was going on and the team said "Okay, stay there". Because the team has to go back to Charlie (Whiting) to see what is going on. I knew that I should have given the position back, but the rules say that if the car in front of you cannot keep a certain speed to follow the safety car or is in trouble, you can overtake that car.

I didn't know what was his problem. If he wanted he could have overtaken me. I let him by. When I overtook him I moved to the left side and he didn't overtake me.

Q. So you think he was taking some precautions?

JT: I think from what I read on the press, because I cannot say much more than that, was not sure about it and he was told to stay back. That's the only thing I can tell you because I read it. But at that stage I didn't know.

I think the stewards didn't have all the evidence, because they got a bit more evidence now. We gave them our radio communications. They have the McLaren communication. They have the data from the car.

The funny thing is that I was called to go to the stewards just after the press conference, so I didn't know anything about what McLaren and Lewis had said after the race. And my statement matched exactly that statement from McLaren. So that's very clear. I told the truth straight away and it corresponds exactly to what the data log of the car says.

Q. Are you disappointed that perhaps Lewis has not explained the situation clearly?

JT: Yeah, but this is more up to him and not down to me. I knew that I told the truth and all the evidence show that I didn't break the rules. This is very clear. I said the same things twice. I proved it with every kind of evidence and, on top of that, there was evident from the other team, so that just confirms my statement.

Q. Are you surprised the FIA has taken so long to solve the issue?

JT: It's difficult to judge because there was a lot going on for the FIA. I cannot judge what was the problem. For sure they didn't have enough evidence then. It's good that they reconsidered it. It means they really understand that there was something that they missed then. Just after the race things were probably a bit too chaotic for them. That's all I can think.

Q. Are the drivers clear about what you can do behind the safety car if a car goes off the track in front of you?

JT: It has happened to me already. I was warming up the tyres in this heavy rain in Japan and I spun. And I didn't get the position back, I stayed where I was. So for me, it's very clear. It's expressively written in the rules. It says that if the car in front cannot keep a reasonable pace to stay close to the safety car, and slows down too much, then the car behind can overtake.

The thing is not that I want to overtake. I saw Lewis slowing down and pulling apart, that was the other thing. He pulled apart, and I thought he was having a problem. So I went next to him and I was trying to make sure it was right. But obviously when you are there you don't start talking to the other driver. I didn't want to overtake him, but he didn't get the position back.

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