Jarno Trulli has spent the weekend at Phoenix International Raceway with Michael Waltrip Racing learning about NASCAR and the car that he is about to test next Wednesday at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. Here's what he had to say about his prospects in NASCAR.
Q. With Toyota pulling out of Formula 1, does your approach to your upcoming NASCAR test change?
Jarno Trulli: To be honest, this was a test that we've been trying to organize since last year, and it only came this year. I just want to get a taste of a NASCAR car, a stock car, because it's going to be the first time for me. So, I'm really curious to see if I'm able to get an idea from these series.
Obviously, looking at today's situation it's pretty clear that I can race in Formula 1 next year, but doing this test might keep many doors open. So, I'm fully open on any kind of stuff, even though my priority is to stay in Formula 1.
Q. You've been talking to Juan Pablo Montoya and the people from Michael Waltrip Racing. Have they already given you some advice ahead of your test?
JT: I've been talking especially with Juan Pablo, who is probably the closest person to me in terms of the feeling that he had and I can get, and he's really enjoying it. He had some hard times at the beginning, but actually now is fully established in these series as one of the top drivers.
It took him a while but the experience always counts, no matter which series you're racing [in], even though he's found some difficulties stepping in and being competitive straight away. But he's given me some good tips in order to understand better the series, the way they're running and some tips as well for the first run that we'll have in New Smyrna.
Q. What appeals to you about NASCAR?
JT: I'm not looking at the series like I like it or not, because I watch every motorsports series on TV, and I do enjoy everything. Here, they are racing and it's very professional -- the car looks bad compared to a Formula 1 in terms of technology, but this is given by the rules. So they just want everyone to have the same kind of opportunity, and that's the rules. You have to play around with some little fixes in order to make your car quicker. It's still a challenge, racing this car or racing a Formula 1 is still a challenge; it's just a different way, a different world.
The fact that Juan Pablo has stepped in a few years ago has attracted a lot of attention from many people, and that's why I've been looking at the series, because I was trying to understand what really was the target for him, what pushed him to get in the series. But actually when you come here and see how many people come to watch this series, you understand, you realize there's so much interest around. So it's really a professional top series, especially for America.
Q. If you were to take this path any further, would your business in Europe factor into moving to America?
JT: Absolutely not. I have no business in Europe apart from the vineyard that my father runs. Racing is racing. We travel a lot around the world, I like living in the U.S., I have already an apartment in Miami, so that's never been, let's say, a problem to think about [in] my career. It's just a question that I don't know if I want to do it. That's why I'm extremely interested in testing this car, to get an idea of what [it] is [like] driving these cars.
Q. How much will the test weigh in your decision about your future?
JT: I don't know. At the moment I'll just go out and try to do my best and try to figure out the car in general, how it is to drive it. Obviously, the racing is different, I know, but I can't simulate that. I can just step in the car and try to taste it and eventually we will see. It's still too early to talk about my future or my switch to this series.
Q. What's your impression of Michael Waltrip Racing?
JT: I was impressed when I first visited the team. The organization, the logistics are pretty impressive. The technology is there, it's just used in a different way because obviously they are strict with the rules.
Q. How do you feel about the current state of Formula 1?
JT: It doesn't seem too healthy at the moment. It's just my opinion, but I don't want to make any further comment. I think there's some work to do.
Q. What was missing for Toyota that stopped it from winning a race?
JT: I think we were very close many times, especially this year. We never had enough luck or we always missed a little bit. It's a shame that it has ended up like this. It's a shame for the people over there. We had quite a good group, a good team and actually also a good car, but probably the car was never strong enough to win a race. I tried and tried many times, but we failed.
Q. Your experience obviously opens up some options for your future, but do you feel any sympathy for Kamui Kobayashi?
JT: That's life sometimes. It's just like for me. I never drove for a top team or a winning car. Maybe he will have another chance.