Jarno Trulli is one of many Italian racing drivers who couldn't fulfill expectations in Formula 1, but he still had relatively good career. Trulli’s driving skills never were questioning, but he wasn’t lucky enough to get a chance in some of better teams to achieve what he was capable.
Trulli was a Karting World champion
He was born on 13th of July 1974 in the coastal city of Pescara, in the Abruzzo region. His parents were huge motorsports fans and named their son after famous Finnish motorcycling champion Jarno Saarinen who died after crash at Monza in 1973. As a kid, Jarno Trulli started to compete in karting and was extremely successful. He won many national and international titles and the peak of his karting career was in 1991 when he became a World champion.
German Formula 3 title winner
Since 1993, Trulli competed in Formula 3, in Italy, United Kingdom and Germany where he was particularly thriving. In 1995, his first year in the German Formula 3, he scored two wins and finished 4th overall while in the following campaign Jarno was brilliant. He won six out of 15 races and had total of 10 podium finishes, so he won the title in superior style.
Video - Jarno Trulli, 2004 Monaco Grand Prix
Formula 1 debut with Minardi
His talent was spotted by many Formula 1 teams and in 1997 Trulli debuted in the most popular racing series. He signed with Minardi, but small Italian team had an uncompetitive car. Trulli drove seven races for Minardi but failed to score a single point before the new opportunity arrived. In the middle of the season, he signed with Prost team as a substitute for injured Olivier Panis. Trulli seized the opportunity and scored points in his third race for the team, finishing fourth in the German Grand Prix.
Two years with Prost team
He stayed with Prost team for another two years which were marked by ups and downs. The start of 1998 wasn’t good after Trulli retired from seven of nine races. The second half of the season was slightly better and the Italian racer managed to earn one point, finishing 6th at Spa. In 1999, Trulli scored his first podium. He finished 2nd at the European Grand Prix at Nurburgring and as he also finished 6th at Catalunya Circuit, Trulli took 11th position in the overall standings with 11 points on his account.
Move to Jordan
Seeking for success, Trulli left Prost team and signed with Jordan. He spent two years with the Irish team but despite obvious progress, he still failed to meet expectations. In 2000, Jarno scored 6 points, with 4th place in Brazil as a highlight, and finished 10th overall. In the following campaign, he moved up to 9th in the Drivers’ championship, collecting 12 points. The best performances that year were at Catalunya and Indianapolis where he was 4th.
The affirmation with Renault
When Renault returned to Formula 1 with its own team in 2002, they acquired Trulli as one of the drivers. Three seasons spent with the French team were probably the best in Trulli’s career. He collected only 9 points in the first season but still progressed to 8th place overall. Again, he twice finished 4th in the races in Monaco and Italy.
In 2003, Trulli scored points almost on a regular basis and finally scored a top 3 finish, at German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Jarno established himself as a driver who know how to pull out the maximum from the under performing car and defensive style of driving against faster cars became one of his trademarks. At the end of the season, Trulli had 33 points in his books, but that still was enough only for the 8th position in the championship.
Trulli scored his only Formula 1 win in Monaco
The start of 2004 was excellent. Trulli not only scored points in seven consecutive races but finally managed to win the race. Unfortunately, triumph in Monaco Grand Prix remained his sole F1 victory. That year he also finished 3rd at Catalunya and 4th in other four races. At the end of the season, he had 46 points what propelled him to 6th place overall what is the best result in Trulli’s career. That result could be even better if Jarno wasn’t sacked three races before the end of the year.
However, Trulli finished the season with Toyota, the team with which he already made an agreement for the season of 2005.
Toyota was next stop in Jarno's career
Trulli’s first full season with the Japanese team was very good, especially the beginning. Jarno finished as a runner-up in Malaysia and Bahrain, later was 3rd in Spain, but in the second half of the campaign, his form dropped a little. However, at the end, he took 7th place scoring 43 points.
After a promising first year with Toyota, expectations for the following one were high. Unfortunately, the season of 2006 wasn’t any near to the previous one. Trulli couldn’t score a point in the opening eight Grand Prix races while in the second half of the year and after the introduction of the new Toyota TF 106B car, things started to go a bit better. Fourth place in the US Grand Prix was the best result in the year in which Trulli collected only 15 points to finish 12th in the standings.
Ups and downs
Downfall continued in 2007. Jarno managed to pick some points in only four out of 17 races. The sixth place in the US Grand Prix was his best achievement in the campaign which he has finished at 13th position with only eight points. The rumors told that he will leave the team but stayed with Toyota for another two seasons during which Trulli performed better.
The Italian driver scored in 10 out of 18 races during the season of 2008 and even finished 3rd in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. With 31 points on his account, Trulli took 9th place in the championship. In 2009, his last season with Toyota, Jarno Trulli made a small step forward finishing 8th overall. He was 2nd in the Japanese Grand Prix and 3rd in Australian and Bahrain, but his form was inconsistent, particularly in the second half of the season. In the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi, he finished 7th and scored his last points in Formula 1.
Two seasons with Lotus were disappointing
After he left Toyota, Trulli quickly found a new job. He was confirmed as one of the drivers of newly formed Lotus team. His experience was valuable for the team but the results were poor. Trulli not only failed to score a point, but he barely could reach top 15. Without a point scored in 2010, the hope for the following campaign was that it couldn’t be worse. Sadly, it was. The car was more reliable than in the previous season, but results were the same, poor below all the expectations.
Trulli was given a word that he will stay with the team which was renamed to Caterham and went through the pre-season test, but soon he was dropped and replaced with Vitaly Petrov. The Italian was left without a driving place for 2012 and for the first time since 1969, Formula 1 circus was without any Italian driver.
Not so glorious try in Formula E
Jarno had to wait until 2014 for the new challenge. With a help of Super Nova Racing and Drayson racing Technologies, he formed Trulli GP team for the new championship under the FIA’s umbrella – the Formula E championship. The first year wasn’t brilliant, but Trulli, who acted as a driver too, collected 15 points and one pole position. Sadly, before the start of the Formula E 2015-2016 season, Trulli GP withdrew from the championship after failing to pass scrutineering.
Nowadays, Jarno Trulli enjoys his time with a family. He has his own range of karts named ’Trulli kart’ and is a co-owner of a vineyard in Abruzzo region which produces his own wine.