Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks ahead to the German Grand Prix Q: At this weekend's German Grand Prix, Panasonic Toyota Racing will unveil its long-awaited TF104B car. What level of performance does the team hope...
Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks ahead to the German Grand Prix
Q: At this weekend's German Grand Prix, Panasonic Toyota Racing will unveil its long-awaited TF104B car. What level of performance does the team hope to achieve?
Cristiano da Matta: There's great expectation about the new TF104B car, which we are racing this weekend in Hockenheim for the first time. Everyone at the team hopes that things should finally go better when it arrives and our target from now on should be in a better position from which to challenge for points at every race.
Q: You ran the new chassis at last week's test at Jerez, but the new aerodynamic package will only have its first outing at Hockenheim. How much of a leap into the unknown will it be to go there with a lot of untested parts on the car?
CdM: The fact that we will only run the aerodynamic package at Hockenheim does not present too much of a problem. Our wind tunnel gives us very accurate results so we usually have a good correlation between the wind tunnel and the track. We've also done a lot of in-house simulations, so we should have a good idea of what we can do in Hockenheim. Now that we've given the chassis a shakedown, things should work out fine, but the true indicator will be in Hockenheim this weekend.
Q: From a driving perspective will it take a while to get used to the changes?
CdM: I don't expect it will take too much time to get used to the differences in the car, because, even if it is only a small step, it will be a good step in the right direction. It's always easy to get used to something that's better. If it was the other way around I'm sure it would be more difficult to get used to!
Q: Does it become even more important than usual not to make a mistake during the practice sessions?
CdM: I don't think our approach to the Friday sessions will be any different to normal. Hockenheim is a very safe track - and while there are always places for you to hit the wall, there are not so many around here. What is important is making sure everything is working as it should be and trying to find a good set-up on the car, whilst conducting our usual tyre selection work.
Q: How often did you race on the old Hockenheim circuit?
CdM: I raced at the old, long, fast Hockenheimring twice in F3000. The old Hockenheim was a special track, with very particular characteristics, and completely different from this one. It was entirely made up of long straights and chicanes, apart from the stadium section. So you had to find a compromise between both sections - because to be quick in one part you had to be slow in the other one.
Q: How does the new layout compare?
CdM: The new track is nice and safe, but now it is just a normal track - much like any other. The track is pretty much maximum downforce all the way round, so there is no compromise between anything. Driving-wise, it's comparatively easy.
Q: The old Hockenheim used to produce spectacular races because of the overtaking possibilities. What about the new track?
CdM: The new layout still compares favourably with most other tracks for passing. We have a long straight here, with a hairpin at the end. So that makes it a very good overtaking point.
Q: How well do you know the area around Hockenheim?
CdM: I don't know the surrounding Hockenheim area very well at all. Last year we stayed in a small hotel about 20-30 minutes from the track. When I raced there before I stayed in Heidelberg which was very nice.
Q: Germany is the home of Panasonic Toyota Racing. Does that mean a lot of the team's employees come to Hockenheim?
CdM: We get more of our team personnel at the N?rburgring, which is very close to our base in Cologne, but we also have a lot of people coming to Hockenheim, a relatively short two hour drive away. It is nice to have the support.
Q: Any predictions for this weekend's race?
CdM: With the introduction of the TF104B, I am even more reluctant to set targets for the race weekend. Let's just see how the new car behaves and how it reacts to the circuit, and we will take it from there.