By Editor on Sunday, February 10, 2013
The Italian left the sport after the first test of 2012, when he was replaced by Russian driver Vitaly Petrov.
Despite his overall views, Trulli says he has no hard feelings personally about Caterham’s decision as he realised that 2012 would not be an improvement on 2010 or 2011, in which he scored no points.
“I realised that we [Caterham] were only going backwards instead of forwards and that the team had no chance for the future,” he said in an interview with Crash.net. “So given that the team was not paying me, I wasn’t so disappointed when they told me I wasn’t driving because I’d already tested the car, and it was no different,” Trulli says, referring to the 2011 Lotus T128 in which he struggled with the power steering.
“You know, me driving there would not have changed much [in Caterham] or my life, or my career. What people didn’t realise is that I chose not to drive, even though I had a contract in place. I gave the team a chance to survive by getting in a pay-driver.”
Trulli, who has kept a low profile since his departure from the sport, believes F1′s biggest mistake was not supporting the manufacturers. The previous decade featured a boom in manufacturers although Jaguar, Toyota, BMW and Honda have now all dropped off the grid.
“The biggest mistake F1 has made in the last 15 years was to not listen to the constructors and leave them alone.”
“In my opinion, there is no competition without the manufacturers and only a few teams at the moment can ensure a good competitive car,” added the Italian, who raced for Renault and Toyota between 2003 and 2009.
“You see, when we had the manufacturers, of course there was always a better team and a car that dominated, but throughout the season or the following, they were always hoping and had the resources to catch up. But now, in this current era of F1, this is almost impossible because there is no manufacturer; we have just Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault who is an engine supplier.”
Trulli also believes 70% of the grid is struggling financially and hints towards Force India’s plight as a case study.
“Back in my time, you were telling the world ‘Oh, look! We have two good drivers, so please follow and invest in us, because we have good potential,” added the Monaco Grand Prix 2004 winner. “Now it is completely the opposite, it’s ‘we’ll launch the car, but about the drivers? We don’t care’. I would say that probably 70 per cent of the teams out there are struggling financially, so given the economic crisis, they need to survive somehow.”
The Italian also heavily criticises F1′s ‘pay driver’ situation, pointing to the situation of DTM racer Edoardo Mortara, who claimed 2 victories in the prestigious F3 Macau Grand Prix before moving into touring cars.
“I feel sad for young drivers because so many times, good, young drivers don’t have sponsorship, so nowadays they have very little chance to reach F1. I think I told people last year or two years ago, ‘listen, there is the this guy, who in my opinion, one Italian driver who is leading races [in DTM] and could probably be another Italian F1 star, but he doesn’t have the budget’. It’s crazy that one driver has to bring money to race. Most of the drivers now are paying to drive, and when you pay to drive, it is not a good tendency. Before, most of the drivers who reached F1, reached it because of their driving skills. Now I can’t see that. F1 has just become a ‘luxury rent-a-car.”
Trulli turned his attention to the teams who joined the grid in 2010 – Caterham, Marussia and the now defunct HRT – and believes that they have exacerbated the ‘pay driver’ situation.
“Ask yourself, what are they [Caterham and Marussia] bringing to F1? If you have an answer, well alright… but we are supposed to race young drivers, but at the moment we are not racing young drivers; we are racing only paying drivers and then he might be old or young, but he is still a pay driver.”
“There could be another driver without the money who could actually do a better job than the pay-driver, but he cannot race in F1. In order to raise the quality of racing, because it is very poor apart from five or six drivers, F1 needs to get the constructors back.”