Salo predicts da Matta will struggle

Salo predicts da Matta will struggle

Former Toyota driver Mika Salo expects that new signing Christiano da Matta will struggle in his debut Formula One season. Salo and Allan McNish were ousted from Toyota to make way for da Matta and Olivier Panis and Salo was not happy about the ...

Former Toyota driver Mika Salo expects that new signing Christiano da Matta will struggle in his debut Formula One season. Salo and Allan McNish were ousted from Toyota to make way for da Matta and Olivier Panis and Salo was not happy about the decision. At the time the Finn promptly said he would retire from racing and evidently still bears a grudge against Toyota.

Mika Salo.
Photo by Mark Gledhill.
"I really hope they struggle a lot," Salo told Autosport, although reportedly with a smile. "I'm happy I'm not there. I couldn't take that any more, one more year of the same thing."

Da Matta won this year's CART championship and was signed up by Toyota to partner former BAR man Panis. Salo thinks Frenchman Panis will cope alright due to his previous experience, but predicts da Matta will not find it easy.

"I think Panis can handle it well because he's got experience from other teams," he said. "But I think da Matta will struggle a bit. When he tested for us in the summer he was driving the same day as Allan (McNish) and he was two seconds slower. And Paul Ricard is the easiest circuit in the world."

Panis and da Matta have been testing at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya and the Paul Ricard Circuit in France recently. Both were satisfied with their initial sessions and spent the time getting used to a new team and new cars. Panis topped the times at Barcelona early this month, ahead of the likes of McLaren and Williams, although most consider winter times are no real indicator of what the season may bring.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Olivier Panis , Allan McNish , Mika Salo
Teams McLaren , Williams