Da Matta: no longer a rookie

No longer the new kid on the F1 block, Cristiano da Matta enters the 2004 Formula 1 World Championship on a level playing field with his rivals for the first time. This year will be his second season in Formula 1 so, aside from China and Bahrain,...

No longer the new kid on the F1 block, Cristiano da Matta enters the 2004 Formula 1 World Championship on a level playing field with his rivals for the first time. This year will be his second season in Formula 1 so, aside from China and Bahrain, which will be new to everyone, Cristiano knows all the tracks and he thinks that it is only now that we will see what he can really do in a Formula 1 car.

Cristiano da Matta.
Photo by Toyota Racing.
"When you have to spend most of Friday learning a track, it puts you at a big disadvantage to the others," he says, "particularly in terms of car set-up. At least now I can get straight on with the important stuff, and I think that will show in my performances over the year."

Cristiano enjoyed a successful and oftentimes impressive transition from CART to Formula 1 in his debut season for Panasonic Toyota Racing. He scored a sensational third place qualifying position at Toyota's home race at Suzuka and is hopeful of improving on his 13th position in 2003's final World Championship standings in 2004.

"In my experience, nothing comes close to the sheer thrill of driving a Formula 1 car," says Da Matta. "But when you get racing that feeling quickly wears off and you want results. I have complete faith in our new TF104 and I am sure that we will be battling for points at each of the races this year."

Da Matta's first year as a Toyota driver was back in 1999 when team Arciero Wells, which was powered by Toyota engines, called him up to the CART series. The Brazilian impressed in the opening race with 4th position on the grid, the best of all the Toyota-powered drivers. 2 races after that, in Nazareth, he earned a best finish of 4th.

In 2000, Cristiano drove for the renamed PPI Motorsports Toyota/Reynard and took his first victory in at Chicago. He was placed 10th in the overall championship standings.

Cristiano joined Newman/Haas in 2001 and took his Toyota-powered Lola to 3 victories and a total of 5 podium finishes to finish 5th in the championship.

Da Matta captured the 2002 CART drivers' championship with Newman-Haas Racing and Toyota, dominating the series with 7 poles, 7 victories and a total of 10 podium finishes over the season.

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Cristiano da Matta
Teams Toyota Racing