Jarno Trulli was born on July 13th, 1974 in Pescara, Italy. Both Jarno’s parents were interested in motor racing and they named their son after the Finnish Motorcycle champion, Jarno Saarinen, who had been killed at Monza the year previous in 1973.
Initially, Jarno spent much of his childhood in karts and after winning the Italian and European Championships, Jarno went on to the German Formula Three series. Trulli won the 1996 title and by the following year had made his debut in a Formula One car, courtesy of Giancarlo Minardi.
1997-1999: The Prost Years
Halfway through the 1997 season (and while driving for Minardi) French driver Olivier Panis injured himself at the Canadian Grand Prix. Team owner and former World Champion Alain Prost asked to use Jarno Trulli as a replacement to Panis, and Minardi duly allowed their star to be transferred mid-season. Jarno’s first race with the French team came at the German Grand Prix, which he managed a fine fourth place. Trulli remained loyal to Prost and stayed on with the team for a further two years. But despite the initial promise, the car and team struggled. Although Trulli managed his first podium in 1999, the Prost team were soon in financial difficulty.
2000-2001: The Jordan Years
Trulli had to find a way out of Prost to protect his own career, but he couldn’t afford to go backwards down the grid. With few top team seats open, Jarno opted for Jordan in 2000. Jordan were on the up, and Damon Hill had won the team their first race recently in Belgium. However, it was to be a disastrous move as Jordan slipped from the top of the sport. In the two years Trulli was at Jordan he failed to even score a podium. Despite impressive qualifying performances (something that has always been a trait of Trulli) Jarno decided to leave Jordan, and through his personal manager Flavio Briatore, the Italian found himself sitting in a Renault at the start of the 2002 season.
2002-2004: The Renault Years
Trulli was partnered with Jenson Button, and although Jarno regularly out-qualified his British team mate, it was Button who had the upper hand in the races. However, Jenson left the team at the end of the year to join BAR/Honda and Trulli was permitted to stay alongside another of Briatore’ young chargers; Fernando Alonso.
2003 marked the beginning of a strong period for the Renault team. The car was quick and agile, and suited the styles of the two pilots who were able to drive well with it. Fernando Alonso managed a win at Hungary and Trulli managed a podium in Germany; his first since his days at Prost.
However, although both drivers raced well, it was Alonso who shone the most and shadowed his team mate. But knowing how well the car drove in 2003 buoyed the team for 2004 and it was to be a year that was supposed to be Trulli’s.
Trulli started raking in the points at the beginning of the campaign. He started to out race his team mate Alonso and claimed his maiden victory around the streets of Monaco. Leading from pole position, it was a convincing race win and should have been enough to quell any sour thoughts within the squad. But alas it did not and team boss Flavio Briatore decided to replace Jarno with Giancarlo Fisichella for 2005.
A series of errors later in the season from Trulli only added to the disaster and Trulli was shown the door three races prior to the end of the season. He had already signed a contract with Toyota to partner Ralf Schumacher and he left the French squad with a bitter taste in his mouth. Rumours were flying around of the team favouring Fernando Alonso over Trulli, and although his poor finish to the season was never properly explained, it is safe to say that Trulli was deeply upset by the whole situation.
But a new start at Toyota beckoned and Trulli was able to race for the team in the final two Grands Prix of 2004. Although no points were gained, Trulli was pleased to be in a new home and welcomed the start of the 2005 season.
2005: A New Start
2005 started well for Jarno and a few podiums did the Italian the world of good. Trulli managed to claim the team’s first pole position at Indianapolis and for most of the year Trulli out-performed and out-raced his highly-paid team mate Ralf Schumacher. The season didn’t end so well though and a drought of points meant that Ralf was able to claw back the deficit. Jarno ended up finishing just two points behind the younger brother of Michael Schumacher.
2006-2007: Toyota Obscurity
2006 was generally regarded as a poor year for the Toyota team. Both drivers failed to deliver the promise of wins and poles and despite Toyota’s huge budget, the results didn’t materialise. The only high point of the year was a podium for Jarno’s team mate Ralf Schumacher. Trulli collected 15 points and finished the year five behind Ralf in twelfth place.
Trulli continued to put a lot of faith in the Japanese team though, and despite the poor performances in 2005 and 2006, he remained with the team into 2007. Big questions were being asked though, of the multi-national team, and soon these questions would have to be answered. A meager collection of eight points means that Trulli may have to follow his team mate Ralf Schumacher and leave the squad if the results do not improve. And over the winter off-season it was announced that Toyota may be in trouble themselves, having been given two more years to get results.
Beyond Formula One
Outside of Formula One, Jarno enjoys spending time with his family in Pescara in Italy and owns a vineyard which produces good wine.