da Matta reflects on Imola

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks back at the San Marino Grand Prix "The San Marino Grand Prix was Panasonic Toyota Racing's first two-car finish of the season, which was very encouraging for everyone in the team. Now that we have found ...

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks back at the San Marino Grand Prix

"The San Marino Grand Prix was Panasonic Toyota Racing's first two-car finish of the season, which was very encouraging for everyone in the team. Now that we have found reliability we can set about improving the performance of the TF103."

"The race was also my first trouble-free grand prix of the year. In Australia I spun out early on and, in both Malaysia and Brazil, I had technical problems that resulted in me swapping to three-stop strategies in order to make it to the end of both of those races. At Imola, at least, it was our choice to do a three-stop strategy!"

Cristiano da Matta.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
"Overall, the TF103 was a good racecar at the San Marino Grand Prix. To be quick at Imola the car has to work over the kerbs and, although the handling didn't allow me to attack them as much as I would have liked, the stability was a lot better than when we tested there before the start of the season with the interim TF102B."

"We struggled with understeer on Friday, but the situation improved as more rubber went down and the circuit became less green. It was annoying that I made a stupid mistake in the first sector of my flying lap on Friday afternoon because it meant that I was only 18th fastest and would have to be the third car out during Saturday qualifying. Given all that I was pleased to line up 13th on the grid."

"I was really encouraged by our pace in sector two, where there aren't any kerbs. I was fourth fastest through there in Saturday qualifying - and Olivier fifth fastest - which proved that our car can be quick in normal conditions. I hope this means we will be quick on most of the remaining tracks on the calendar."

"As for my race, it was great to go through the whole pre-race start procedure because it was a new experience for me. In each of the opening three races the track has either been damp (Australia), or I have started from the pitlane (Malaysia) or everyone has started behind the Safety Car, as was the case in Brazil. I learnt a lot from just being on the grid and seeing how everything works."

"When the lights went out I was surprised at how aggressive everyone was on the rush to the first corner - much more than in ChampCar, where there is a rolling start and people are already a bit spaced out when you cross the start-finish line."

"My pace early on was good and I was easily able to hold onto Olivier, Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld. I thought a top 10 finish was on the cards at this point because the car was really consistent. I had no problems at my first pitstop and came out behind Heidfeld, but it all went wrong after my second stop, when I came out in 14th place."

"It was really frustrating because I felt I could go much quicker, but I just couldn't pass the guys in front. That's the thing about Imola: it's easy to defend your position because the track is so narrow, and likewise it is very difficult to overtake. I was stuck behind Jarno Trulli for 12 laps, until he pitted on lap 40, but my race was already over by that point."

"My final set of tyres was a bit inconsistent, but it was nothing that I couldn't deal with. When I crossed the line I was a bit annoyed because I had not had a lot of clear track ahead of me for the entire race. If you look at my fastest race lap, which was the 11th best, you can see that I was capable of running at a much faster pace than the traffic allowed."

"We now go testing for four days in Mugello. In my opinion it is the best racetrack in the world. I drove there in Formula 3000 and cannot wait to go there in an F1 car because it will be awesome!"

"Let's hope that we can continue to make good progress with the TF103 prior to the next race at Barcelona. I have a good feeling about the Spanish Grand Prix because we have shown real pace at the Circuit de Catalunya in testing. I have finished three of the first four races of the season, so the next step ahead has to be to complete full race distance in the top eight and to collect our first points of the season."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Nick Heidfeld , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Toyota Racing