Caterham’s Jarno Trulli aims to get over ‘tough’ 2011
Jarno Trulli will not feel any more pressure in 2012 as he prepares for the chance to put the hardest year of his long career behind him.
The Italian driver has been on board with Hingham's Team Lotus project since it arrived in Formula One in 2010, but the former Toyota man suffered a difficult season last year after power steering issues affected his feeling for the car.
With good results in short supply during the second half of the season, speculation had risen over Trulli's 2012 seat for Tony Fernandes' rebranded team – which will race as Caterham this year.
But Trulli had no worries and will take to the opening round of the 2012 championship in Australia on March 18, after his seat was confirmed by the FIA last month.
'Yes, 100pc I'm on grid at the start of next season,' nodded the 37-year-old veteran of 256 grands prix, who is not about to start worrying over last year's speculation.
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'After 15 years? Pressure?…I just hope we can fight in the midfield and eventually fight for points. That would be a good pressure.'
Trulli added: 'It was a tough long season for me, especially because from the first day I didn't adapt to the power steering. So I struggled big time to be confident with the car.
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'It was tough; tough to accept that every race I was going to, I knew I couldn't really perform as I wanted. I felt like a lion in a cage – you can't get out of there and you are stuck in it.
'I couldn't do any set-up work or changes because I couldn't feel the car. It was very difficult.
'Definitely it was my hardest year in the sport. I thought that 2010 was hard, but that was harder on another side – hard to accept because I had a lot of reliability failures and that was tough. In 2011 the car was much better, but I was not driving it as a wanted. I was more a passenger rather than a proper driver.
'Nevertheless I still did some good races because I eventually got the best results for the team, two times 13th position.'
The former Team Lotus outfit, which will now race with a Caterham chassis, did not deliver on its 2011 winter pledges of competing for points – but did at least secure a second successive 10th place in the constructors' championship and the extra funding that comes with it.
Such lofty goals from the outset perhaps amplified the disappointment felt by some as Team Lotus struggled to close in on their established rivals – and Trulli is keen to avoid similar mistakes ahead of this season.
'I'm confident but I am always very careful when saying we will do this and this,' said the grand prix winner. 'I think we have to learn from mistakes and be a little bit more realistic. Let's say that yes, we believe we can definitely be in the midfield.
'But from guessing and believing, and really staying in the midfield, we have to wait and see for the first test or first race of the season.
'The new car was ready last year, which is very early from my experience so far in Formula One.
'But on the other hand it is difficult to see and to say where it is good or very good. At the moment we can only base it on some numbers which I prefer not to give away.'