Da Matta reflects on Silverstone

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks back over the British Grand Prix weekend The British Grand Prix was a great race for everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing. Our TF103 worked well throughout the weekend and, while I tried not to get too excited ...

Toyota's Cristiano da Matta looks back over the British Grand Prix weekend

The British Grand Prix was a great race for everyone at Panasonic Toyota Racing. Our TF103 worked well throughout the weekend and, while I tried not to get too excited about leading the race for 18 laps, I must tell you that it felt pretty good!"

"We knew we would be quite competitive at Silverstone after a positive test there at the beginning of June, but I think we exceeded our own expectations slightly. We ran a new aerodynamic package for the race - incorporating a new engine cover, front wing and bargeboards -- and this was a big step forward in terms of performance."

Cristiano da Matta.
Photo by Toyota Racing.
"Overall, I think my weekend started slowly and got steadily better. I wasn't one-hundred-percent happy with Friday qualifying because I felt that the car had much more to give. The track conditions changed a lot during the course of the day and we couldn't find the best balance on the car, however I still posted the tenth fastest time, which was encouraging for the rest of the weekend."

"For Saturday we changed the set-up of the car and my pace improved immediately. Unfortunately, my car developed a problem during the lunchtime warm-up session, which meant I had to jump into the spare car for second qualifying. The spare was already set up for me, but the last time I drove it was at the Goodwood Festival of Speed one week previously, so the car was not as finely-tuned as my race car. Given all these dramas, I was really happy with my sixth position on the grid, which was my best starting position of the year after ninth place in Canada -- all in the T-car!"

"At the start of the race, both Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso got passed me as the lights went out, but I was helped by a great strategy and two Safety Car periods to end up leading the race by lap 13."

"We took advantage of the first safety car phase to refuel earlier than scheduled, but the safety car was brought out again on lap 12 after a madman ran onto the track holding a religious banner. I was down the field after the first stop and preparing to overtake Justin Wilson when I saw this crazy guy about 2 metres' away. It was a very dangerous situation and luckily nobody got hurt. With most drivers using this second safety car period to pit, I found myself leading the race with Olivier right behind me -- the first ever Toyota 1-2!"

"My experience of rolling starts from when I raced in America certainly helped me at the re-start because I managed to open a bit of a gap by the time we crossed the line. Then, when Kimi Raikkonen was behind me, I was surprised at how easy it was to keep the gap at about 0.6s. My lap times were very consistent and I thought I drove pretty well out front. I knew that the lead would not last long, but I was the car in front for about 18 laps -- nearly one-third of the race distance, and I took the opportunity to build up as much of a time advantage as possible."

"Even after my second stop I was still in a points position and was able to race against lots of other quick drivers. I had good battles with David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve and managed to stay ahead of Jenson Button at the end to be seventh and take two more points, which was good for the championship."

"All in all, it was a good race for me - quite possibly my best in Formula 1 to date -- and it is such a moral boost for the whole team. Once again, we have demonstrated our potential and both Olivier and myself were able to complete full race distance on the same lap as the winning car. With Olivier finishing in 11th, we achieved our best double finish of the season, so it can only continue to get better from here."

"I'd also like to say a few words of congratulations to Rubens Barrichello, who won the British Grand Prix. We used to live together in Cambridge, England, and he's a good friend, so it was good to see him win."

"Of course we still have a lot of work to do before we can dream of leading a race on merit, but I think that we proved to everyone at Silverstone that we are making good progress as a team. I think that we are now at the head of the pack chasing the top four teams."

"My schedule has been very busy recently, so I'm looking forward to having a break from testing this week. The next time I drive the car will be at the German Grand Prix in two weeks time, where I'm certainly hoping to score more points."

-toyota-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Toyota Racing