Da Matta, Panis press conference, part II

Toyota Formula One press conference Part 2 of 2 Coordinator: Our next question comes from Mr. Phillip Wagoner of Brazil Magazine. You may ask your question. P. Wagoner: I would like to know in particular if there is anything regarding the...

Toyota Formula One press conference

Part 2 of 2

Coordinator: Our next question comes from Mr. Phillip Wagoner of Brazil Magazine. You may ask your question.

P. Wagoner: I would like to know in particular if there is anything regarding the transition from CART to Formula One? Do you do anything differently to prepare yourself mentally or emotionally for the race?

C. da Matta: No. This is the same. Since I started racing go-carts, the preparation for the race is the same. It doesn't change from series to series. I think it's sometimes physically it can change a little bit, because one car is maybe more demanding in one part of your body. The other car is maybe more demanding in other part of your body. So that may change a little bit, but mentally, I think you have to race 100%, and as hard as you can all the time. So there's not much difference on that.

P. Wagoner: Given the immense popularity of Formula One in Brazil, do you have some kind of a greater sense of being a Brazilian driver when you're on the Formula One track versus when you were racing in CART?

C. da Matta: Yes, in Brazil I think because of for how long formula One has been broadcast to Brazil, and for all the Brazilian drivers that had success in the Formula One is the past, all the marketing they had in Brazil, I feel there is a bigger fan base for Formula One right now even for me, even being running on the mid-field and sometimes even on the back of the pack, I have a bigger fan base than when I was winning races in CART. This, of course, makes me a bit frustrated because it seems like people don't give as much importance or as much value for winning CART championship and winning races in CART than being mid-fielder in Formula One or running on the back. I mean, few times running on the front too, but it's not like winning races.

P. Wagoner: Yes, I've heard similar comments from some of your fellow countrymen like Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, and so forth. In fact, thinking of those guys, Helio and Tony in particular, have family that travel with them and play an important role in terms of helping them to manage their situations through the racing season. Is it similar with you?

C. da Matta: Yes. My father comes to many of the races. Also, sometimes my mom, my brothers, they come to fewer races because of course they have to work. But I'm a guy that is very connected to my family, and I like to have them close to me as often as possible.

P. Wagoner: Are you and they living in Brazil now or are you living in Europe?

C. da Matta: No. I wish I could be living in Brazil, but I'm living in Europe.

P. Wagoner: Okay. My last question really is regarding outside of racing. Is there anything that you do outside of racing that you have a particular interest in, some kind of a diversion?

C. da Matta: I'm a normal person. I have many other interests apart from racing. I like music a lot. I like to listen to music a lot, like to play guitar, like a lot of sports. I like biking, running, like swimming, triathlons. I like to go out with my friends, my girlfriend, like to stay with my family, just like every person, I guess.

P. Wagoner: Sure. One of the people that I interviewed in Brazil, who I thought was absolutely fabulous, was Mariza Monte. Can you tell me before I go who some of your favorite musicians are in Brazil?

C. da Matta: Not Mariza Monte. I like a little bit heavier rock.

P. Wagoner: Okay. Zella Donkin, maybe?

C. da Matta: No, no. I'm not a very big fan of female singers.

P. Wagoner: Thank you very much, and good luck at the race.

C. da Matta: Okay, no problem. Thank you.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from Mr. Dick Mitman. You may ask your question. You are from USGP.com. Sorry about that, sir.

D. Mitman: Hello. In May, a Brazilian driver ... named Toyota Panasonic Car won the 500. Do you think it can happen again in September?

C. da Matta: I wish it really could happen again in September. But being realistic, I don't think it's right for me to say that I can win the race, because I think it's till out of our reach. But all we can do is to fight for good points, and if everything goes right, maybe we can even maybe dream about the podium, but it's a very difficult situation for us. We still have a lot of work to do to get to this point, and it's more realistic to say to fight for points.

D. Mitman: Gil de Ferran has announced his retirement now. Are you a close friend of his, and what do you think of that?

C. da Matta: I'm a good friend of his. I'm not very close, but we are friends. I think Gil has achieved almost everything a driver could ever dream of to achieve in his so I think if he wants to retire now, I think he can put his head on the pillow at night and dream that he just had a great career, and not to be worried about anything. He has done almost everything really.

D. Mitman: You were talking earlier about you won in CART and then people respect you more for finishing below the top spot, but how frustrating is it to have a year where you won seven races, and then the next season you moved to another venue and haven't won yet?

C. da Matta: Of course, when I moved here I was not expecting to win any races. When I decided to come here, I knew it was going to be a more of a long-term project, and I knew it was going to take a little time until I got myself in a position to try to win races again. So of course it's a bit frustrating, but it's not that I was expecting to win this season. So for me, something that I think I have been dealing with quite all right. It's not something that has been bothering me right now.

D. Mitman: Okay. thank you. I'll see you here later this month.

C. da Matta: All right, thanks.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from Mr. Paul Cuminski of Motor Sports Radio Network. You may ask your question.

P. Cuminski: Christiano, I was going to ask Olivier a question about Italy. But since he's not there, let me ask you one about your former teammate Christian Fittipaldi, who's going through a bit of, shall we say, a learning curve himself. Do you ever get together on the phone and chat him up?

C. da Matta: No. Actually it's been a long time. I didn't talk to Christian probably since January or February, and I know the whole team is going through a tough time. I think Christian had quite a good qualify the other day and was running quite good. I think it was in Michigan, if I'm not mistaken. I try to keep up with the American racing from here, too, but sometimes it's a bit difficult, because of the time difference. But yes, I just hope they get everything sorted out for Christian and the Petty Team. I'm sure it's a difficult learning curve to go from Open wheel Racing to NASCAR, but I'm sure he's going to succeed. He has the talent. He has the team, and it's just a matter of time.

P. Cuminski: One last one about your learning curve a little bit, sir. How has it been trying to learn all these tracks? Basically, obviously you may et to see them on video games. You may get to see them on videotape or something like that. But basically, showing up there, except for the places you test all the time, like Silverstone or something like that, how has it been? Has Olivier been a good help to you this year?

C. da Matta: Yes, Olivier has been a really good help, but of course on learning the circuits, he cannot help me much really. It's just a matter of me getting in the car and getting used to all those corners, those brakings and so on, and what makes it a little bit more difficult is that on the Formula One Race weekend we don't have much track time. We're not among the teams that have the Friday testing in the morning. So I only have one hour on the Friday and before I go to the first brake qualify, and then another hour and a half in the Saturday morning before I go to the real qualify. Then it's straight to the race. So there is not a lot of time. We have to do everything quick. Get used to the track as quick as we can at the same time you're trying to set up the car. So it's not easy, but I think I've been doing okay on that, and that's actually one of the big reasons why I think next year I'm going to have a big improvement.

P. Cuminski: Thanks for clearing that up. Best of luck to you in Italy, and we'll see you at the speedway.

C. da Matta: Okay. thank you.

Coordinator: Our next question come from Mr. Dean Burdette of WPXN Radio. You may ask your question.

D. Burdette: What has been the hardest thing for you to learn in your first year, and maybe speak to some of your experiences? Is driving the hardest or the fact that you travel a lot more?

C. da Matta: No. On the travel side, actually you travel a lot more racing in America. Because just travel inside Europe you go fly one-hour flight here; another, an hour-flight there; another, when it's too far it's a two-hour flight. Last year everywhere I would go was three hours. You go to California, it was a five-hour flight. So I'm traveling a lot less this year, actually. The hardest thing on the learning curve is just the car handles so different to a Champ Car or to anything I've ever driven in my life before, and demands such a different driving style, too, that we have to start learning to do some things that are not natural for you. So it just takes time and mileage.

D. Burdette: We wish you well. Thank you very much.

C. da Matta: Thank you.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from Miss Ann Proffitt of Automobile Magazine. You may ask your question.

A. Proffitt: Sorry about that. What kind of changes have you had to make in your driving style, Christiano?

C. da Matta: It's quite a technical explanation, and the Formula One Car, because of the weight and I think the grooved tires, it accepts a lot more braking and steer at the same time. So you actually carry the braking a lot more into the corner, and you don't have to worry so much about the minimum speed. Basically, you just have two phases on the corner entry that you also are still braking, and then after that you are hard on the throttle. For me naturally, always everything I've driven in my life, it's been slick tires, so you have a braking area, then you have an area that you have no brakes and no throttle, there is just we call only the turning, then you have the mid-corner and the exit. So it's quite a different thing, and sometimes most of the times, the turning on the Formula One Car is much earlier because of this ability to brake and turn at the same time. So all those kind of things for me, sometimes I think that is starting to get more natural for me. Sometimes I still struggle a little bit through that. Sometimes I still find myself driving the car the way you should drive a Champ CAR. For example, we solved it another quick way. But I think it's just something that only the time will take this out of my head and I'll be 100% used to the Formula One Car.

A. Proffitt: I'll be looking forward to seeing you do that when you're here. I do have a question for Olivier.

C. da Matta: Olivier is not here any more, Ann. He left. He was feeling bad because everybody was only asking me questions.

A. Proffitt: Oh, I wouldn't blame him. But I'll ask him when I see him here. Thanks, Christiano. I'll look forward to seeing you.

C. da Matta: Okay. Good to talk to you.

Coordinator: Mr. Kurt Cavin, you may ask your question, from the Indianapolis Star.

K. Cavin: Do you have a season highlight that you're most proud of and it doesn't have to do with necessarily your best finish but a place where you just thought your weekend went as well as it could possibly go?

C. da Matta: I think definitely Silverstone was my best qualify. I started sixth, and it was the first time I led a Formula One Race. So I think Silverstone was a good one. Also, was not my best result, but probably the best weekend, and also I think Barcelona was a good one, too. But those, I think the highlight is still Silverstone.

K. Cavin: Quickly, the people in the U.S. made a big deal last year of the Ferrari fiasco at the finish. That will be talked a lot about here in the next couple three weeks. What was your take on Michael and Rubens, and how they finished the U.S. Grand Prix last year?

C. da Matta: I think what happened last year in the U.S. Grand Prix, for Schu was not organized or if he was organized it was pretty darn well organized, because to calculate that small difference that there was between the two cars, I think that wasn't proposed though. I don't know exactly what happened there, but of course I think I'm totally against anything that goes on off one guy letting the other one by because for me that's not sport, and I think sport is the thing that has to be number one on the list.

K. Cavin: You sound like an American here. Thank you.

C. da Matta: Thank you.

Coordinator: Our next question comes from Mr. Phillip Wagoner of Brazil Magazine. You may ask your question.

P. Wagoner: Yes, Christiano, I wonder if you could just share with us your interactions with Rubens since you've gone to Formula One.

C. da Matta: sorry, I couldn't hear you very well.

P. Wagoner: I wonder if you could just share with us how you've interacted with Ruben Barrichello, and have you been working/playing off of him, or learning through him, or have you had any interaction?

C. da Matta: I'm pretty good friends with Rubens, since my Formula three years back in 1995 here in Europe. So he has been helping me in some things. But of course here the cars are so different, and we have different tire manufacturers. Everything is so different that there is not even much that we can exchange information, but on the personal side, I think we get along very well. We go out together every time that it's possible, have dinner together very often on the Grand Prix weekends. I have a very good relationship with him just like in the old times.

K. Cavin: Wonderful. Thank you.

G. Thome: Christiano, the team has really seemed to have proved a lot the last second half of the season so far. Can you comment, just in a general sense, what might be some of the tings that have led to you and Olivier having a little bit better results in the first part of the year?

C. da Matta: I think the first thing, on the first part of the year we suffered a lot with some of reliability issues, because I think the performance was there almost since the beginning. Ever since we started to have more clean weekends, with trouble-free weekends, we started to be higher on the qualify and high positions, of course, on the end of the races. So that was, I think, the main reason why. Of course, we progressed, too, as a team and we made some good modifications on the car, aerodynamic and mechanically wise, so that for sure helps. But I think the biggest thing was just learning how to do the race weekends and having trouble-free race weekends.

G. Thome: Last year you seemed to really find your groove as far as the situation with CART and the fixed number of laps in qualifying. This year you've had to switch to a single-lap qualifying situation. Has that been a very tough transition to get used to?

C. da Matta: It's a difficult transition, of course, because you have only one lap and you cannot afford to make a mistake. But I think the biggest downside for me on that is that it's even less track time that I have in the places that I usually don't know. So I think that's the biggest handicap I get with that. Because I think the only actual one-lap qualify was difficult, but it was not the biggest difficulty.

G. Thome: If we don't have any other questions, we can thank Christiano for his time today, and wish him luck next weekend in Italy, and at the U.S. Grand Prix in a few weeks.

Coordinator: I currently have no questions, sir.

G. Thome: Okay. Christiano, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it. Again, best of luck, and we'll see you in three weeks.

C. da Matta: Thanks, Greg. Thank you very much, everybody. I'll see you guys. Looking forward to seeing everybody in three-weeks time, yes.

G. Thome: Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes today's teleconference. The transcript will be available later today.


Part I

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Christian Fittipaldi , Tony Kanaan
Teams Ferrari