Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix Q: You had a three-day test in Silverstone this week, whilst Olivier, Ricardo and Ryan were in Monza. How was the test, and how do you split the work between the four of ...
Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix
Q: You had a three-day test in Silverstone this week, whilst Olivier, Ricardo and Ryan were in Monza. How was the test, and how do you split the work between the four of you?
Cristiano da Matta: The test we had in Silverstone this week was productive. Over the three days we managed to get a lot of useful work done, mainly on tyre evaluation for the British Grand Prix in July. We additionally did some set-up work, which should hopefully mean we are well prepared for the race weekend. My job this week was specifically targeted to the British Grand Prix, whereas Olivier, Ricardo and Ryan completed more performance-related work in Monza for the Canadian and US races.
Q: It has been a busy period with two sets of back-to-back races close to each other. How do you cope with such a packed schedule?
CdM: The nature of back-to-back races is quite tough. The limited turnaround time puts additional stress on the team to ensure everything is as well planned as it can be. From a driving point of view it is not as bad, because it we were not racing, we would be testing anyway, so we keep busy nevertheless. It can obviously be tiring, especially with all the travelling, but I am looking forward to having a few days off in Brazil prior to Canada.
Q: What do you think of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal?
CdM: The track in Montreal is nice, very technical and enjoyable to drive. It is one of the faster circuits on the calendar and puts a real emphasis on engine power and stability under braking. On paper, our car should suit the track and I certainly hope that it does. I came second in the 2002 CART race in Montreal and I also had a strong race there in F1 last year before my suspension gave way.
Q: You were running in eighth place when you retired from last year's race?
CdM: I qualified well in ninth place, which given the fact we had only completed a handful of laps in dry conditions was a real achievement. The race then ran without incident until six laps before the end when I experienced a problem with the suspension. What was frustrating was not so much the fact I was forced to retire but the fact that I was forced to retire from the points -- what would have been my second points finish of the season at that stage. Luckily for everyone in the team, Olivier was right behind me to pick up the championship point.
Q: Are you expecting to be similarly competitive this year?
CdM: It is doubtful that we can competitively drive into the points this year without benefiting from some misfortune ahead of us, but we will do our best. We will have an advantage in our strong and reliable RVX-04 engine, but we have to make sure that we have the car balance to match. That is a job we will be focussed on in Friday's practice session.
Q: There are also the dreaded kerbs at Montreal, which have not been one of Toyota's strengths in the past?
CdM: The kerbs at Montreal, just like at Imola, are a key element to setting a quick lap time. If the car cannot ride them well, then simply the car is uncompetitive. We made some progress on kerb riding in recent times, as we saw in Imola this year. The TF104's handling was quite good in Imola qualifying this year and I could really extract everything from the car on my way to tenth on the grid.
Q: What do you think of the atmosphere in Montreal?
CdM: I think the Canadian Grand Prix weekend is one of the best of the year. Everybody in the city really gets behind F1 and as a driver you can feel this support. In my opinion, this sort of attitude from the fans is just what F1 needs.
Q: There has been talk about introducing another revised qualifying format by having two 20-minute sessions during which time drivers will have 6 laps to run with the grid position being determined by the aggregate of the fastest time in each session. What do you think of this idea?
CdM: This new qualifying format sounds interesting, especially the idea of averaging out the fastest times in both sessions. It would also be much better for the spectators, who will see 20 cars battling it out in a short space of time on low fuel levels, which is what qualifying has always been about in the past. Implementing that system at Monaco would certainly be something to watch.