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Trulli feels first win is at hand
September 27, 2003 19:38 IST
Italian Jarno Trulli dared to look forward to his maiden Formula One victory after lapping quickest on Friday for this weekend's United States Grand Prix.
"Maybe my first win will come when I do not expect it," the Renault driver told reporters after he eclipsed world title contenders Michael Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen in first qualifying.
Trulli's best finish remains a second place at the 1999 European Grand Prix at Nurburgring and, despite four front-row grid positions, the 29-year-old is still waiting for the first pole of his seven-season Formula One career.
But after clocking one minute 9.566 seconds on Friday, he felt Sunday's Indianapolis race represented a real chance of breaking his duck.
"It is true, before we arrived here this week, we were confident but not as though we could be on top of everyone else," he said.
"But I felt so good this morning, and the car was so balanced, that we had a really good day.
"It was nice to feel so competitive. So now I don't feel as though it is too much to expect to still be on top (come Sunday).
"We can still be confident for [final qualifying on] Saturday...with a bit of passion and luck, and good performance from the car, I will win my first Grand Prix.
After enduring difficult seasons with Prost and Jordan, Trulli is finally reaping the benefits of a stronger Renault team buoyed by partner Fernando Alonso's win in Hungary last month.
But for all his dominance on Friday, Trulli expects Schumacher, who finished first qualifying in eighth place, and Montoya, fifth in his Williams, to close the gap over the weekend.
"We had two extra hours of running in the dry conditions [on Friday]," said Trulli. "I am sure the others will be quicker on Saturday and put more pressure on us.
"We are also slower down the main straight, so we have to work out a way of getting a good balance of power with our strong aerodynamics.
"But this [Renault] team has improved so much this season. Last year I wasn't happy with the car, or with its handling, but now we are working really hard and professionally.
"Alonso's victory in Budapest gave us all a big boost. Fernando and I get on very well, despite what I hear about us...we push each other."