Born in Pescara, in the Abruzzo region of Italy, on 13 July 1974, Jarno Trulli has been competing regularly in F1 racing since 1997, having driven for Minardi, Jordan, Prost, Renault and Toyota. Trulli’s parents were motor sport fans, as is evident by the fact that he was named after Finnis Grand Prix motorcyclist Jarno Saarinen. His father encouraged him to get involved in the sport, which led to him competing in karting from a young age. He proved to be a talented driver, winning Italian and European karting championships before moving on to Formula Three and winning the German championship in 1996.
It was in 1997 that Trulli made his F1 debut driving for Minardi. Seven races into the season he was called upon to replace injured Prost driver Olivier Panis, and made quite an impression right from the beginning as he finished fourth in Germany and looked set to take second place in Austria, but never finished the race due to engine trouble. For the following two seasons Trulli stayed with the Prost team, taking his first podium position at the 1999 European Grand Prix.
In 2000 Trulli signed with Jordan, and despite a series of awesome qualifying displays, he failed claim a podium finish. This gave rise to some suggesting that he was a qualifying specialist, not having what it takes to successfully complete a race. This reputation followed him when, as a member of the Renault team in 2002, he often out-qualified team-mate Jenson Button, but didn’t quite make the grade in races. Nevertheless, Trulli remained with Renault for the 2003 season as team-mate to Fernando Alonso, who had been promoted from test-driver. In Germany, Trulli achieved a podium finish, being his first with the team. In 2004, Trulli made a vast improvement and for at least the first half of the season was the stronger driver in the Renault team, taking a first-place victory at Monaco. Trulli had his sights set on remaining with the Renault team for 2005, but a lack of judgment on the last corner of the French Grand Prix allowed Rubens Barrichello to take first place and set Trulli at odds with the team-boss Briatore. Subsequent lackluster performances resulted in Trulli parting company with Renault with three races of the season to go.
Trulli had, however, already negotiated with Toyota to drive for them in 2005, and replaced Ricardo Zonta for the final two races of the 2004 season. 2005 started out well for Trulli, with excellent qualifying times earning him one pole and thirteen grid-slots in the top five. He took second place in both Malaysia and Bahrain, scoring Toyota’s best results to date, but finished seventh in the final standings. Trulli did not have a good season in 2006, and still driving for Toyota, he finished twelfth in the standings, being two places below team-mate Ralf Schumacher. 2007 saw Trulli clocking up superb qualifying speeds, but his TF207’s performance was not up to scratch and he finished the year thirteenth overall.
Toyota’s performance showed a marked improvement in 2008, and Trulli scored in 10 of the 18 races of the season, with an encouraging third place in France. Trulli finished the 2008 season in ninth position overall, six points ahead of team-mate Timo Glock. Despite the Toyota TF109’s inconsistent performance in 2009, Trulli managed podium finishes in Australia and Bahrain, ending the season with a second-place finish in Japan. With the withdrawal of Toyota from F1 racing, Trulli signed for the new Lotus team for 2010. The first race of the season at Bahrain, saw Trulli retiring from the race after 26 laps due to hydraulics problems. But with a whole season’s racing ahead, auto racing fans are no doubt keen to see if Jarno Trulli can overcome his reputation, and keep up the pace through the race.