Jarno Trulli – the latest Grand Prix veteran to lose his seat – has lamented that a lack of grassroots support in his native Italy has led to there being no Italian drivers in Formula 1 for the first time in over forty years.
The 37-year-old’s was sacked from the Caterham F1 line-up and replaced by the well-funded former Lotus Renault GP driver Vitaly Petrov, one of the drivers Trulli had criticised last year as a ‘pay driver’.
Trulli’s departure from the sport now means that next month’s Australian Grand Prix will be the first since the 1970 Mexican Grand Prix where there has not been a single Italian driver on the event’s entry list. In 1991, almost one-third of the entire field was comprised of Italian drivers.
The continued decline in rising stars from Italy can be attributed, Trulli argues, to a lack of support at the grassroots level for young drivers.
“Formula 1 without Italian drivers is a shame,” he told the Ansa news agency. “During a crisis as we have in our country, I can’t see how a youngster can find the help needed to be considered by any team.
“Others must take responsibility for this impoverishment, for a situation that after all did not begin yesterday, and over which no action has been taken. In Italy there’s no system that helps drivers emerge at high level, so it’s normal it ends up in situations like this.”
When asked about his dumping from the Caterham team – despite holding a valid contract to race for the outfit in 2012 – Trulli admitted that his being replaced was not a surprise.
“I was prepared for a possible divorce from Caterham, in the knowledge that the difficult economic situation would have pushed the team to find an adequately-supported driver,” he said.
“Small teams have certain needs and contracts are clear. I hope that, with Petrov’s contribution, all the people who work there can have a more serene future.”