CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta not scared of Schumacher

Christiano da Matta is looking forward to the challenges of Formula One and says he is not scared of reigning champion Michael Schumacher. However, the new Toyota signing is not expecting to take the world by storm in his debut season. Da Matta, who started winter testing last week, knows it will take time for him to find his feet in F1.

Cristiano da Matta.
Photo by Jack Durbin.
"I don't know if I am as good as Montoya or Villeneuve," he told the UK's Independent newspaper. "We will see next year. (Michael) Schumacher is the best, as his record shows. But I'm not scared of Schumacher or anybody else. If you have the guts you have a chance."

"I'm not expecting to fight for the championship or win races in my first season. You have to go step by step. If I wanted to stay a hero, winning races, I would have stayed in America. This is a new stage in my career. It will take time."

Da Matta said he hadn't made the move to F1 for financial reasons as he had made more racing in America due to the prize money. The Brazilian thinks winning the 2002 CART title gave him the motivation to try something new: "I'm here in Formula One because I wanted a new challenge," he explained.

"Winning the CART championship was one of the biggest reasons for coming over. I've done that. I needed to move on, Toyota have given me that opportunity. It is a team with a bright future. In some ways there is more pressure on me because I am a champion. More is expected of me. But in my head, no, there is not more pressure."