Trulli out, Petrov in at Caterham

After months of speculation, when people finally began to think that maybe Caterham would honour Jarno Trulli’s contract, the rumours have come true. The Italian driver, who won at Monaco with Renault and has spent two years with the back-of-the-grid team, has been fired despite taking part in the first F1 test of 2012. He has been replaced by Vitaly Petrov, and there is no doubt that the money has helped. You need money to improve your prospects.
Vitaly isn’t a bad driver, and definitely has potential with Caterham, but Trulli had potential too. It is a shame he – like Rubens Barrichello – wasn’t given the opportunity to retire gracefully. At least Barrichello’s replacement was done honestly by Williams, and the Brazilian seems likely to continue his career in IndyCar. What is there for Trulli?
What is done is done. I think Petrov will do well, and he looks alright in green. Much better than black anyway.

The SuperNova team have left the GP2 championship after seven years. The British team, who have featured such drivers as Giorgio Pantano, Adam Carroll, Luca Filippi and Mike Conway, will be replaced by Venezuela-sponsored Italian outfit Venezuela GP Lazarus. Team Lazarus took part in Auto GP, last year running with Fabrizio Crestani and Fabio Onidi. The drivers finished 6th and 5th respectively in the championship.

Two drivers have been signed today. Trident revealed their first driver, Vicky Piria. She will be the first girl to take part in GP3. Hopefully she’ll do well, though she has not scored any wins or podiums so far in her career.
Meanwhile Cypriot Tio Ellinas, who came fourth in the 2010 British FFord season and finished third in Formula Renault UK on equal points with Oli Rowland and after dropping 40 points from his total (Rowland dropped none), comes to GP3 with Marussia Manor Racing. He will partner Dmitry Suranovich and Fabiano Machado.

Narain’s in, but is Karun?

HRT confirmed their driver lineup for the Indian Grand Prix today. Narain Karthikeyan will be partnered by Daniel Ricciardo, the driver who replaced him from Silverstone. Tonio Liuzzi, therefore, will be on the sidelines.

There is no word yet from Team Lotus on whether their Indian reserve driver, Karun Chandhok, will be replacing Jarno Trulli for the race. If this happens, this will be the first race since the 2005 US Grand Prix that no Italians have taken part. Before that race (which was in exceptional circumstances), we need to go back to the 1996 Japanese Grand Prix (for which Giovanni Lavaggi – the only Italian entrant – failed to qualify) to find a race where no Italians took part.

The Indian Grand Prix will be Felipe Massa’s 150th Grand Prix. If Jarno Trulli takes part, it will be his 250th. Several drivers have anniversaries coming up at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, including Mark Webber (175th) and Bruno Senna (25th).

Summer day 11 – Liuzzi, Trulli, De La Rosa, Barrichello

Sorry for the delay. My laptop wanted to get friendly with some water but the relationship didn’t work out.

Tonio Liuzzi – 20
Throughout the winter, Tonio Liuzzi was sure that despite Paul di Resta winning the DTM championship, he had a safe seat at Force India. But Mercedes – who provide Force India’s engines – backed Paul, and with Nico Hulkenberg taking the reserve seat Tonio was left teamless. Pretty swiftly, however, the Italian driver was snapped up by Hispania Racing. Despite being unable to provide any funding, he was able to provide them with help in developing the car.
The start of the season was dismal. Neither HRT driver qualified in Australia after getting hardly any time on track, and coming nowhere near the pace in the qualifying session. But Malaysia was an improvement as both HRTs squeaked under the 107% time along with the Virgins. As the car has improved, Tonio has been able to scrap for position with the Virgins in qualifying, and even started 20th in Istanbul.
But his greatest race came in Canada. The wet/dry conditions somehow played into HRT’s hands, and while nobody was paying attention he finished ahead of his teammate, both Virgins, and the sole remaining Lotus of Jarno Trulli. His thirteenth-place finish has allowed him to slot in behind Trulli in the championship, and brought his team back to 11th where they finished the championship last year. HRT have had a lot of luck to be ahead of Virgin in 2010 and 2011, but in this game luck is a big part of it. And when your next rivals have an incredibly unreliable car, you can see why HRT have hopes of getting that elusive 12th-place finish that will get them 10th in the championship.

Worst qualifying: 23
Best qualifying: 20
Worst finish: 23 (Valencia)
Best finish: 13 (Canada)
Average difference: 2.3
Laps completed: 531/681 (78%)
Average race position: 10.82 (Best: 18.9 Canada; Worst: 22.9 China)

Jarno Trulli – 19
Having been hit by most of Team Lotus’s reliability problems in 2010, Jarno seems to have the more reliable car this year. Though to be honest, three is still a huge amount. Finishing 13th in the very first race of the season has sealed Jarno’s place at 19th in the championship, and he matched that finish in Monaco when he came in ahead of Kovalainen.
For the first half of the season, however, the Italian has been having trouble with the team’s power steering, which did not meet the sensitivity he required to be able to drive the way he prefers. This has been part of the reason why he has been half a second off his teammate in most sessions, as proven in Hungary when only a last-gasp effort got Kovalainen ahead on the grid.
We can expect much closer racing between the two Team Lotus drivers in the future, which will make life a lot more interesting for them. Let’s hope they can stay out of each others’ way and keep the retirements mechanical.

Worst qualifying: 21
Best qualifying: 18
Worst finish: 20 (Valencia)
Best finish: 13 (Australia, Monaco)
Average difference: 1
Laps completed: 490/611 (79%)
Average race position: 17.73 (Best: 15.9 Monaco; Worst: 20.4 Britain)

Pedro de la Rosa – 18
Stepping in for Sergio Perez at the Canadian Grand Prix, Pedro did a reasonable job considering he’d not been in the 2011 Sauber before. He finished on the leading lap thanks to the red flag and safety cars. Nothing else to say, really.

Qualifying: 17
Finish: 12
Average race position: 13.54

Rubens Barrichello – 17
After a good 2010, this season was looking even better for Rubens Barrichello. Winter testing showed promise, and the ‘tight rear end’ was the talk of the press. Then came Australia, and the first of two consecutive double DNFs for the team. Since then, Rubens has been pushing the team to improve. Already reluctantly putting aside this season, the Renault deal should make things better for 2012. But will the Brazilian be there? Rumours abound, questioning whether he will be replaced or remain. As the most experienced driver in F1, he can retire without shame, but he is still a good driver.
Despite not making it into Q3 at all, the high attrition in Monaco and Canada was enough for Rubens to snatch a couple of ninth-place finishes and four points. Aside from that, the Williams’ best finish was 12th at Valencia. Aside from the two DNFs at the start, Rubens’ FW33 has also had a problem in Germany. Bring on 2012.

Worst qualifying: 19
Best qualifying: 11
Worst finish: 17 (Spain)
Best finish: 9 (Monaco, Canada)
Average difference: -0.09
Laps completed: 585/681 (86%)
Average race position: 13.76 (Best: 10.2 Monaco; Worst: 22.0 Malaysia)

F1 Birthday: 13/7/2011

In 1997, a young Italian driver made his way into Formula One for the first time. Back then he drove for Minardi – a long-standing team with limited success. Later, he moved to Prost – the renamed Ligier team. Today, he drives for a young, up-and-coming team – or an old team that took a break before returing to F1 with new ownership. It’s Jarno Trulli‘s 37th birthday today!
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Records progress

With the 2011 British Grand Prix, Jarno Trulli has entered 247 races – the same number as David Coulthard. The Italian has been in F1 since his impressive first season with Prost in 1997. Coulthard, however, beats him on starts. In his career, the Scot only failed to start the 2005 US Grand Prix when all the Michelin teams came into the pits after their start lap. While Trulli – who took pole there – also retired, he also failed to start three other Grands Prix: San Marino in 1997, Malaysia in 1999, and more recently the 2010 Australian Grand Prix in his unreliable Lotus. So Trulli requires three more race starts to match Coulthard.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso has achieved his 27th win – matching Jackie Stewart’s record. But while Stewart could complete the feat in 100 races, Fernando has taken 168. It is his 67th podium. At his next he will match Rubens Barrichello, though he will still be 12 behind Ayrton Senna’s 80.
Nico Rosberg and Nick Heidfeld are closer than ever in the ‘most points without a win’ battle. Heidfeld is a mere 1.5 points ahead of his fellow German.
Vettel now has 14 consecutive starts from the front row – a string extending from the 2010 Singapore Grand Prix. The last time he was off the front row was at the 2010 Italian Grand Prix, where he started 6th and finished 4th. He has 11 consecutive podium finishes starting from the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix – 9 consecutive from the start of the season matching Alonso in 2006 and Hamilton in 2007.

In all-time career points, Vettel has now overtaken Kimi Raikkonen’s 579, though Raikkonen never drove under the current points system. Vettel is only 20 points behind Hamilton. Meanwhile Mark Webber has knocked David Coulthard out of the top 10. Coulthard has 535 total career points, but Webber has managed half a point more. This means that the Aussie now has the second-most career points without being world champion – only Barrichello on 658 points has more.

This was Ferrari’s 215th victory, and their 15th at the British Grand Prix. But it was the 216th victory for a Ferrari engine, with the odd-victory-out being taken by Vettel in the Toro Rosso-Ferrari in 2008. The Scuderia have now beaten McLaren’s 14 British GP wins. It was also their 225th fastest lap.

This info is all from Wikipedia. It’s a very useful website!

Eleven drivers in Monaco

11 – Jaime Alguersuari He qualified behind the Lotuses, and spent most of the race somewhere between the backmarkers and the midfield. He didn’t help himself by running into the back of Lewis Hamilton. He was one of my favourite drivers. Now I don’t know what to think about him.

10 – Lewis Hamilton Scrappy driving from the Brit, not always backing off when he should have done and taking risks in the wrong places. Was unlucky to recieve two penalties, and hasn’t had a good start to the season overall with the stewards despite some good finishes.

9 – Jerome d’Ambrosio His teammate was battling with the Lotuses for position, but the rookie couldn’t keep up. He was fortunate not to be penalised for blocking the Lotuses in the final stint having just been put a lap behind them.

8 – Paul di Resta A Monaco novice because of his time in DTM, he will admit he could have driven better. He finished close behind Rosberg, ending up on the same lap as the two Lotuses as well. Not his best race.

7 – Felipe Massa I don’t know exactly how much he was to blame for his accident. He got onto the marbles and then there was no chance. He was doing well before then to defend from Hamilton.

6 – Michael Schumacher Lost out to his teammate at the start. Though he managed to catch up, he was then impeded by his car failing on him. Reasonable driving, but the Mercedes was not quick at Monaco and both picked up trains very early on.

5 – Vitaly Petrov A good race and reasonable qualifying, he was the second serious accident of the weekend but only suffered bruising and a swollen ankle. Maybe he should stay off the football for a while!

4 – Pastor Maldonado Was he taken out by Hamilton or did he just lose control? He’s got a bad habit of crashing, but this was going to be his first points finish. Barrichello did get the points. Rookie Maldonado has really started to shine in the last two races. Maybe, just maybe, he is a worthwhile Hulkenberg replacement.

3 – Mark Webber He lost a position, but managed to pressure Kobayashi into a mistake at the end to get fourth place and give Red Bull another 37 points. He’s close to beating Lewis Hamilton in the championship now.

2 – Jarno Trulli Beat his teammate off the line, and stayed ahead throughout the race even when they were racing each other. He got his first opportunity for a long time to have a competitive race against other teams. In the end he finished 13th for the second time in 2011, cementing his 18th place in the championship.

1 – Kamui Kobayashi Maybe he did lose out to Webber, but after another non-Q3 start he had his career-best finish. Brilliant! I almost hoped there were some crashes amongst the leaders so he could get a podium.
There is no doubt that Sauber – despite not being the BMW works team any more – have done amazing things this year. Taking the risk of running a rookie and a driver with just over one season in F1 has worked out well for them. Perez, with no F1 experience, has matched his teammate at times and even made it into Q3 before his accident in Monaco. Kobayashi has not finished outside the top ten all year, and today earned his best finish of all time. While I don’t think we’ll be seeing podiums for Sauber just yet, they clearly deserve their sixth place in the championship ahead of Force India and Toro Rosso.

24 drivers in 24 days – twenty

Actually, the rate HRT are going this will be 23 drivers in 24 days. 😀

#21 – Jarno Trulli Former Toyota driver Jarno Trulli joined Lotus after Toyota were unable to continue in Formula One. Though there used to be a lot of Italians in F1, their number has been declining. Depending on where Hispania goes with their second driver, he might be the only one left (Paul di Resta doesn’t count). He’s an older, more-experienced driver having begun his career in 1997 with Minardi, doing surprisingly well with the typically-poor team.
Back before his Formula One days, Jarno Trulli earned a championship win in the 1996 season of German Formula Three. This is one of very few earlier seasons of German F3 that has a proper Wikipedia entry, so I can tell you that his opponents included Renault’s Nick Heidfeld, who came third. But Trulli had 206 points, which was 47 more than his next opponent and 68 more than Heidfeld, though the German had more wins than the second-placed driver. Trulli’s record for that season stands at 7 poles, 1 fastest lap and six wins, but he also had four more podiums and only once had a non-points finish with no race retirements. With a record like that, no wonder Minardi snapped him up!