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Trulli contract highlights F1 teams squeeze on driver pay
Trulli contract highlights F1 teams squeeze on driver pay
Posted By: James Allen  |  19 Oct 2009   |  1:27 pm GMT  |  49 comments

Jarno Trulli did another solid job in qualifying this weekend, fourth on the grid, one of a handful of drivers to judge the changeable conditions perfectly. In the race he was a furious early retirement after a collision with Adrian Sutil. And things are not going smoothly behind the scenes either in his negotiations with Toyota for a new contract.

Trulli plays wait and see (Photo: Darren Heath)

Trulli plays wait and see (Photo: Darren Heath)

Toyota F1 president John Howett is on record as saying that it is looking unlikely that, despite an offer on the table, Trulli will stay with the team and this weekend Trulli explained the background to the situation,
“I have an agreement with Tadashi Tamashina (the team principal) who has asked me to wait until 15th November, which is when Toyota will decide its own future in F1. And I intend to respect it. For that reason I haven’t really been looking at other solutions. Now I don’t know if Toyota will want to keep me or not, if there is someone who wants to denigrate me through the media.”

Trulli appears to be referring to Howett. The Italian took the team out for dinner this week in Sao Paolo to celebrate his second place in Suzuka, one of his best drives in his long F1 career. Afterwards he said, “There were 80 or so people there and you would struggle to find one who did not want me at the team next year. Well maybe one..”

Howett alluded to the fact that team and driver were potentially too far apart on price. Trulli has other options, like the new Lotus team whose technical director is Mike Gascoyne and a big Trulli fan from their time together. But Trulli wants to stay with Toyota. If needs be I imagine he will take whatever is on offer at the end of the day from the team, should he be given the chance, unless a better offer comes his way in the fulness of time.

In many ways he sums up a phenomenon which we are seeing for the first time in 2009, and which is a direct result of the credit crunch and the squeeze on teams’ budgets. This has affected most drivers in some way this year. As part of the resource restriction agreement most teams will be cutting back to 300 or so staff soon and may go even lower and they are determined to get control of the drivers’ salaries.

Jenson Button is also experiencing this at the moment as his contract talks drag on with Brawn not willing to go to the levels Jenson and his management want.

The drivers know that they are being squeezed and as a result some of them have been talking to each other behind the scenes, keeping each other abreast of the situation, when they are signing something, what the teams are saying, so that they can keep their price high.

Of the 26 potential cars on the grid, plus Sauber which doesn’t have an entry at the moment, only 11 drivers have confirmed seats. The market is wide open and we are likely to see a very different grid next year for many reasons.

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Didn’t I read somewhere that the budget “cap” does not include drivers salaries?


It’s not a budget cap, it is a resource restriction agreement – so no FIA imposed cap. When the FIA was touting the cap, driver salaries were not included. The team management are keeping the details of the resource restriction agreement secret, not least from their employees as it calls for a reduction in headcount. I’m not sure what it says about salaries, but from the way the teams are behaving over salaries, there is some kind of plan to keep them under control.


James, whats your thoughts on Adam Carroll? This guy has raced and beaten Hamilton, Rosberg, Piquet etc and has proved himself capable of winning a championship in A1GP. He has also stepped up to the mark in GP2. He is quick, and strong under braking. Is it a financial reason why noone will give him a chance or is it that he isnt a big enough name? I just cant help but think that he could more than compete with the likes of Liuzzi, who looked average in A1GP. Surely one of the new teams could have him as a 2nd driver?


He’s a strong competitor, he’s shown that if he is given a chance he can do it. Why not?


i agree with luciano, i can’t see that john howett does anything for toyota – he is derogatory about his drivers, when really he should be looking at his car first. there’s a reason drivers aren’t beating down his door looking for a drive. i hope kimi doesn’t go there, he’ll end up like ralf. glock and kobayashi would be a good line-up tho.

how much say does lewis have in who partners him? i read one online report (make of that what you will) that said that hamilton wasn’t very keen on either kimi or rosberg joining mclaren, and that both whitmarsh and haug rated heidfeld very highly. personally i think this would be a great pairing with one massively quick driver, and one massively experienced and consistent, although i can’t see that hamilton would be overly concerned by who his team-mate would be.


I would be very surprised if kimi doesn’t end up in Mclaren next year. He has been seen wandering into Mclaren garage, photographed with various personnels. Whitmarsh and Haug have been praising him recently. McLaren wants the constructor’s, not just the driver’s championship. It would make sense to have two strong drivers.

I think Mclaren is delaying their driver announcement out of respect for Heikki. Not a great way to treat a nice guy such as Heikki by publicly declaring that he is unwanted before the season is even finished.

If there is something that could prevent Kimi going to Mclaren, it might be the sponsorship publicity that Kimi is so averse to. Ferrari gave him a lot of freedom in that aspect of his employment.

I don’t think he will be too fussed about who his teammate is unlike LH. Lewis, being the good racer that he is, would surely be up the challenge. If Kimi has indeed lost his motivation as some people like to claim, then LH has nothing to be concerned about if Kimi goes to McLaren.


Is all this talk of Raikkonen to Toyota just a way to drive up the McLaren offer?


James, how do you rate Trulli against Barrichello?

Doesn’t look likely Toyota will pull out, but if they do, Lotus are after a driver with experience and a few years left in him yet. That’s Rubens/ Jarno territory. I’d say Trulli is their best bet. He can teach novices, and a few drivers on the grid, a thing or two about set up and quali.


hey james

many people including keke rosberg think the kimi to mac deal is done and dusted.your not one of them?


James, one part of the statements we don’t seem to be talking about – Toyota will be making a decision on November 15th.

We’ve all read the speculation, but having a date in the diary seems more significant to me.

They don’t have drivers, they’ve released Williams from an engine contract and Bernie et al don’t seem too worried about the BMW situation in all reality.

So.. what’s the latest pit lane view of the risk they just pull out?


We’ve talked about it all season! Roll on November 15th and an answer to this interminable question is what I say


Sorry, I meant the news that they have a specific decision date in the diary. I’ve missed that bit amid all the rumour and speculation. As you say, roll on the 15th. No doubt “BMW” can’t wait.


What I don’t understand is why they don’t want Glock. He’s still young and will get better and has had some good drives this season. One poster above said Howett knows what he is doing. I disagree. Toyota have gone nowhere with Howett and what they should be looking for is a new team principal.


James, do you think that Trulli could end up at Renault?

He has the experience they want, he has also shown from the last few races that he still has great speed, and also has driven for them before, so would probably know many of the team personnel still.


On his day he is fast, as on a qualifying lap.

But he doesn’t get the job done at the end. And some key people at toyota know it by now.

He may still have a chance if kimi goes to mclaren. I hope kimi goes for the toyota challenge. It is time toyota have a proper driver, like dennis jenckinson used to say.

Trulli wants to keep going, even though his sell by date is up..

If he was driving in the seventies, he would have retired already, but now he wants to keep going for the money and the lifestyle, as long as ther is no risk. When the going gets tough, its a different matter.

Jarno, you should look in the mirror, and see that the time has come to take take more personal care of your wine business.


He would be my first choice if I were them. He fell out with Flavio, but not the others. On his day he’s as good as anyone, but he also has weekends where it just doesn’t come together. But alongside Kubica that would be one fast pairing.


Hi James,

will Kubica and Trulli be able to develop the car as, for example, Lewis, Alonso, Barrichello and maybe Rosberg?

I don’t know, they will be certainly blistering fast with a good car but will they be able to develop the car through the season.

McLaren showed everyone that, with the right development, they turn a dog of a car, Eddie Jordan words, into a very good car in about 2 months.

Probably the basic design was not too bad.

On the otherhand, will Barrichello departure from Brawn limit the development of the 2010 car and will this stop Button to win his second championship.

I am sure that Ross will have thought about that and I think he already knows that the 2010 car is quite good at this stage.

James, how do the team share information to the drivers about next year car development when they know that one of the driver will move to another team, such as Brawn, Ferrari, Renault ????

Is the driver capable to pass information without actually driving the car due to the test ban ?


They don’t…


Hang on a minute !!!!

Can we please go back to a couple of months ago before the start of the season.

Honda left F1, Toyota was thinking about it, Sauber thought about leaving at the end of 2009 season, Renault was thinking about reducing the budget.

Now, after a couple of months, Bratore and Luca di Montezemolo trying to start a new F1 and failed, teams has agreed to reduce costs and to me, a little entrepeneur in the North of England, born and bred in Italy, the most expensive assett in a F1 budget is the driver.

A good driver without a good car is nobody, see LH beginning of the season, and the team principals know this very well.

For goodness sake, Fisichella has been an half decent driver but a world champion material and Ferrari thought he could drive as good as Massa !!!!!

Sogoing back to the driver waltz, only few drivers has been able to dictate their salaries and car choice, LH, Vettel, Alonso.

All the rest needs to find the right car for the right salary, even Rubens and Jenson will need to adapt.

Mercedes will have Rosberg in the Brawns, they paid for him to drive, Jenson has no option than negotiate the best deal for him and Brawns.

Kubica will be going to Renault, he is fast and not a prima donna, Vettel and Webber will remain at RBR, Vettel is very fast and Webber will not find a better car to drive, Toro Rosso will keep their drivers t suit RBR, I can Sutil on Williams, he is fast and immature but fast, Rubens could help him out there.

Kimi should go at McLarens but the team will not want to unsettle LH, remember the rumors when Alonso was there.

If LH will get unsettle, Ferrari will pounce on him for 2012 and let Alonso going after 2 years.

Trulli will need to think about what he wants to drive because so far in the last 2 seasons has been too much up and down in performance and I don’t think he will be able to take a young team and help them grow.

And just remember what’s happen to Montoya, he was seing the new Schumacher and all of a sudden the following year, meadia and paddock decided he was rubbish, difficult to manage and not capable of be an F1 driver.

The only saving grace for Trulli is that the new generation of drivers, Liuzzi, Buemi, Nelsinho, Alguesauri and the rest are so far not impressed, the young Kobayashi made an impression on sunday but we need to see him next season.


I think F1 drivers sill should get more than footballers. It will be interesting to see if Kimi gets double salary for 2010 or goes for a competitive car no matter what. I personally think Hamiltons do not want Kimi next door.


You have to agree that when they start their careers, they put the same effort driving for 16th, than for a points finish, or a podium. But people like kimi, or button, only apply themselfs when they see a chance of victory. And big bank accounts have something to do with it. I think it was better when drivers coudn’t retire as millionares, like today.


I think you are right. Toyota want him badly, but retirement from F1 is also a real possibility


Haha James, for sure you’re not a fan of Kimi just like most of the media people. Understandable.


With the interviews that Trulli gave at Suzuka I don’t think he is remotely interested in staying at Toyota next year. And John Howett has made it very clear they don’t want him.

I don’t understand John Howett – he has openly berated several drivers in the past that could have been available to Toyota (e.g. Trulli, Heidfeld, Kubica) and they will end up with much inferior drivers (Glock or Kovy and one of the two Japanese drivers)


Pay the drivers a modest retainer with an agreed uplift based on last years results and let them negotiate their own personal sponsors. Control budgets and engage the drivers in the harsh realities of the current financial climate.


Howett is a smart guy, he’ll be sending as many cost cutting messages to the Toyota board as he can to ensure he gets the budget he wants.

With Kobayashi (and one would assume Nakajima too) to please the home market he can afford to play a waiting game on the other driver.


I suppose Howett is trying to talk up Kobyashi as that would be his best hopes that Toyota keeps this thing running and hence he can keep his job. Poor Trulli does he really want to stay if Howett sticks around?

I think that salaries, budgets, track fees have a long way to come down. Bad news for CVC’s business plans, but good news for ticket prices and fans.



Interesting insight again James. I’ve never recalled the driver market being as open – with seats still available for next year, after all has Kimi signed yet to have his bum in a car for next year. James any insight into this new Schumacher story regarding my neck is now okay and I could drive. I read that as a message to ferrari saying give me a go in the next race in Abu Dhabi, am I wide of the mark there?



So, let’s see:

Brawn: ?/?

Red Bull: Vettel/Webber

McLaren: Hamilton/?

Ferrari: Massa/Alonso

Toyota: ?/?

Williams: ?/?

Renault: Kubica/?

Force India: ?/?

Toro Rosso: Buemi/Alguersuari

Campos: ?/?

USF1: ?/?

Manor: ?/?

Lotus: ?/?

My counting says 8. James, who are the other 3?


I thought Liuzzi had a race contract for Force India. Maybe Hulkenburg at Williams is confirmed (but not publically)


Liuzzi has had a contract to race for Force India in 2010 for ages. But that’s still only 9….


Howett’s not wrong though…. why keep Trulli when you can have Kobayashi?

He was like something out of Kill Bill. I expected to see him wearing the black face mask under his visor.

Jenson summed it up best… “Kobayashi is crazy!!!”. He’s absolutely got to be on the grid next year.


i do not agree on this one.

The new guys have to make an impression, and they drive hard, the way a n f1 should be driven, but guys like trulli or fisico, are at the end of their f1 lives, and they do not want to risk an accident. They have a long nice retirement in front of them.

Those fat bank accounts make them too cautious.

we need guys like kobayashi driving next year. At least this year was good to clean up the grid from this overrated oldtimers.


I second an all japanese line up of Kobayashi/Taku, (or if they want to keep some German flavor Kobayashi/Sutil).

God bless the other 24 guys, but at least would guarantee there won’t be any more boring processions ever.


Hi James,

Do you see Schumi racing in Abu Dhabhi this year now that he has been declared fit and considering Fisi’s performance so far and team competing with McLaren for the third position in the championship?


He cannot drive in Abu Dhabi as Ferrari has already used four drivers this season, which is the maximum


What would have happened then if Kimi had suffered eyesight damage from the fuel he got in his eyes in Brazil? Would Ferrari be forced into having only a single car for the final race?


If Kimi was injured they could use Luca Badoer to replace him!


They could bring Massa back, because they’re fighting for 3rd in the championship.


actually it was two drivers and two comedians if we’re counting, James.


i like this one. May be they have room for another comedian like piquet, or may be de cesaris.


That’s a bit rude. I don’t think Kimi is very funny at all.


What is happening with Kimi and McLaren James?

Is that a money issue or as reported in some media are the LH camp trying to block him?

Him and LH in equal McLaren’s against Alonso in a Ferrari is the most exciting prospect of 2010. If Kimi doesnt go to McLaren the season will lose a lot of its potential excitment I think. On his day, when motivated, Kimi is probably the fastest driver in F1 and it will be truly fascinating to see, especially with the way he was treated by Ferrari, his desire for revenge must make him pretty pumped up.


That same question was asked to lewis himself on spanish radio last sunday, and he seemed surprised. I looks like it is a matter of money, or some other detail, not hamilton trying to stop him going to mclaren. Even though he would rather have sutil as a team mate.

I think toyota deserve to have a real race winner like kimi. Just to see if they can produce a winning combination. I think this year with a proper driver, would have won at least one. And we shouldn’t underestimate how much good would have done to the team morale.


It’s funny, Howett is saying exactly the same thing about Kimi. Must say that Toyota has been wasting money since the day they came to F1. Maybe it’s about time to cut costs. I also think that Räikkönen is asking much more from Toyota than he would ask from Brawn or RedBull. At least there he could be sure of having better car for next year.

As for Jarno, Toyota is his only good option and he knows it. Lotus would be not too bad either, can forget about points but there would be no pressure on him. As we saw last race, maybe that is what he needs.


Uh-oh – Button / Brawn – it’s 1996 all over again….


… or 1992!


No its not, they both want to stay together.


I think even though Button is the champion a lot of people think it was mostly the car and, for the seond half of the season Jenson has not been making people look at him

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