Da Matta reflects on Hockenheim

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks back at the Hockenheim weekend "The German Grand Prix was a brilliant race for everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing with both Olivier and myself finishing in the top 6. We were genuinely competitive throughout...

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks back at the Hockenheim weekend

"The German Grand Prix was a brilliant race for everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing with both Olivier and myself finishing in the top 6. We were genuinely competitive throughout the weekend and our fifth and sixth places gave us seven more world championship points, moving us from ninth to sixth place in the constructors' championship."

"It was a great reward to everyone who has worked so hard over the last couple of months because our development schedule has been relentless. First we introduced some aerodynamic parts for the British Grand Prix last month and then we had a new-spec engine at Hockenheim, which was a definite improvement because it was much more driveable than the old one."

Cristiano da Matta.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
"The new track layout is definitely more physical than the old one, which I raced on in Formula 3000 in 1996. There is no chance of a breather on this one because you are always turning the steering wheel, yet on the old one you had a chance to cool down along the long straights."

"But, having said that, I think the old track was more challenging because I found the new one pretty easy to learn. It's just like any other modern track, so I felt comfortable on it within about 10 laps, although I think my learning process was helped by the TF103, which was good from the very first practice session."

"We had grip and consistency on all of our long runs on Friday and I was a little disappointed to be down in 15th place in Friday afternoon qualifying. I made a few small errors on my lap and, while I knew I had more to come, it was still a bit of a shock to be that far down, especially after our recent run of form, where the top 10 was normal for us."

"As for Saturday qualifying, although I was pleased with ninth place, I did not get the best out of the car. I had a big moment at the exit of the final corner and I was very disappointed to post a 1m16.5s."

"The first sector on my flying lap was okay, but as I exited the hairpin at the beginning of sector two, I made an unfortunate mistake. As I had the steering wheel on full lock in the middle of the hairpin, one of my fingers nudged the up-shift lever, which put me into second gear, so I was slow away from the corner. My engineer told me afterwards that this cost me about 0.2s."

"Then, going through the final turn, I had a tiny bit too much understeer and ran wide on the exit. The back end tried to come round on the dirt and the only way I could stop myself having an off-track excursion was by lifting off. That cost me another few tenths, so my overall lap time could have been much faster and I think it would have been very close between Olivier and me. Our cars were on roughly the same fuel load, because we had taken the decision to stop just one lap apart in Sunday's race."

"I had an enjoyable and generally trouble-free race, driving in convoy with Olivier throughout the 67 laps. All the pit stops ran as smoothly as ever and we were able to capitalise on our three-stop strategy to secure this fantastic top six result with both cars. The three points I scored from my sixth place mean that I move up to 12th in the drivers' standings with just four points separating me from the top ten."

"I'm spending the next two weeks on holiday in my hometown of Belo Horizonte in Brazil, which is a perfect way to recharge my batteries prior to the final section of the championship. I hope everyone in the team finds the time to take some time out too, before a final push in the last four races of the year, where we have to score more points and consolidate the team's sixth place in the standings."

-toyota-

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Cristiano da Matta