CHAMPCAR/CART: Cristiano da Matta press conference, part II

CART FedEx Championship Series Cristiano Da Matta press conference 11 June 2002 Part 2 of 2: More questions from the media Q. It was good talking yesterday at Vancouver. When you take those little tours for doing the sponsor things for ...

CART FedEx Championship Series

Cristiano Da Matta press conference 11 June 2002

Part 2 of 2: More questions from the media

Q. It was good talking yesterday at Vancouver. When you take those little tours for doing the sponsor things for advance or your own personal sponsors and go to a track that you're racing soon, do you get any insight to refresh your frame of mind about that track? Did you have a chance to walk around it at all?

Cristiano da Matta: Well I was able -- I didn't walk the track, but I drove around it, and yeah, of course the track -- I always have it very well in my head every time I go back to a place; but, for example, for me was good to be there, because sometimes they change the track between one year and the other, and you want to know beforehand, before anybody else, what the new changes are. So there was a good opportunity for me to look at the Vancouver track, although it wasn't all put together, but it looks like everything is going to be exactly the same as the previous years. They're doing actually some good work on the tracks because they are repaving some parts of the back straight, which was very bumpy before, so that's going to be very good. I was happy to see that they improving that, and I was even more happy to see that the city of Vancouver, they told me that the city is who is doing that for the event. So of course we appreciate being so welcome.

Q. That's great. Going into Portland this weekend, you told me yesterday, Festival's (Curves) really about the only place to pass. Are there any other areas that you might want to make a brave move at?

Cristiano da Matta: Well, in Portland it's pretty difficult. I think the corners are pretty much the main place for passing. I'm just trying to think of another one here. Well, I think it's pretty much. I mean any other place, you try to do something like this, it's going to be a 99 percent risk move.

Q. One question is everyone wants to know to what degree to you actually share specific information with Tony (Kanaan)?

Cristiano da Matta: With Tony?

Q. Yeah. None at all?

Cristiano da Matta: None at all. It's actually a difficult situation when you're friends with somebody, all off the racetrack and sometimes you see the guy struggling on the racetrack or vice versa, you know, and there's nothing you can do. It's just because, at that point, he is one of your opponents. I don't see him as a friend when I'm on the racetrack. It's a guy I respect a lot, but there's nothing I can do for him while I'm on the racetrack. And, you know, Tony is very talented. I cannot give him any advice, otherwise he's going to come back and kick my butt. But he has a very good season. I don't think he needed any advice. He just needs to finish races well. He's had quite a bit of bad luck and hope things get better for him. But, no, we're just friends. For information, like between the cars, never say anything. It would be extremely unprofessional attitude to do something like that. I think if we could do something like that, that's good. That's Tony's car running the ovals. You wouldn't see my car running the ovals.

Q. I know it was asked on Sunday, someone asked about the nature of the race and you said, from the driver's perspective, it was fantastic. Would you have liked it better if Christian would have been a little closer, to pressure you a little bit more?

Cristiano da Matta: For me? No. For me, the race -- I mean I had it under control most of the time, and I think when you're having a race you don't want to see anybody near you. You want everybody to be as far away as they can. Probably the crowd would like that better, but not me.

Q. What about Portland, you think that's more open on the track for more passing or would you like to just -

Cristiano da Matta: It's better for passing than going through the Festival Curves, and Laguna it's a lot more difficult than that. I think I would put Laguna as a track that would be very -- if I had to judge Laguna as the opportunity to pass, I would say that is very hard. Portland, I would say it's probably normal. It's not very difficult, but it's not easy too.

Q. Are there places other than the Festival, like last turn or some other ones?

Cristiano da Matta: The last turn is very difficult to pass. It's not impossible, but it's very difficult. Last year, they passed me there, but only with contact, and I passed them in some other places too, but only with contact. So it's tough. I think the Festival Curve is the only really place that you can pass some people and still be fair, not making anything -- not stupid, but not making anything unfair on the racetrack.

Q. I know Jerry, at the beginning, said there wasn't going to be any rain, but are you making any contingency plans in case the weather comes back up there on you.

Cristiano da Matta: Well we haven't tested. Probably the last time we ran those cars on the wet was at Portland last year, and we never tried the car on the wet, on testing. So I just hope it doesn't rain because my car wasn't all that good on the rain last year. I know the dry was very good.

Q. Going back to the weight, if it's not too personal, do you consider yourself the smallest or least-weighted driver in the CART series?

Cristiano da Matta: I think, yes. I think I'm probably the lightest guy.

Q. And I also -- did I understand you correctly to say that you did sign the request for the ballast?

Cristiano da Matta: Yes, I did. Yes, I did.

Q. Thank you.

Cristiano da Matta: One thing that was very interesting about this weight thing, a guy doesn't make a very good point that I was actually -- This is something about the weight, it was more -- I was talking to him on Friday, and he's saying I don't think this whole weight thing is fair because you know, for example, I don't think people would make a special basket for Shaq O'Neal because he's taller than everybody else. And I agree with Morris. I think it's bad that we are going back to the same weight because you know being smaller and lighter, you have maybe a slight weight advantage, but on the other hand, the whole race car is heavier for you, proportionally-wise and that's a bad thing. Everything is heavier. You probably have to -- for my size, I have to be more fit than guys that are, you know, taller than me, for example. So it's -- you know it goes both ways and I like Morris's comparison a lot. He said imagine Shaq O'Neal grabs the ball and the basket goes up, and then a small guy grabs the ball and the basket goes down. He says they're trying to make the rule like that.

Q. Good point.

Merrill Cain:  That's an interesting way to look at it.  I guess that's
true.  We'll take one more final question for you.

Q. Yes, Cristiano, congratulations on that last weekend. Let's go back a couple of weeks to your F-1 test. Was that a pay-back from Toyota for good service, or are you really being occurred as a contender to drive the car some time in the near feature?

Cristiano da Matta: No. I think they gave me the test just to -- for my curiosity. They said that the test was because of good work over the last couple of years, and it was just a unique opportunity for me. But right now, nothing on the future there. It was just a test. It was great, but it was just a test.

Q. What did you learn that you could bring back to CART and utilize it?

Cristiano da Matta: Well I learned a lot --You know, it's just a unique experience in a way. I think a lot of things, that way of working they have over there, that's basically -- nothing, I would say, on the driving standpoint. I think mostly just ways of doing these things different. Because everything is so different. They just do everything in such different ways than what we do that it's quite, quite interesting what they have over there. So I bring -- biggest thing I bring some suggestions back to the team. That's probably the main thing I learn over there. And in my driving skills, for myself, I learned a lot. Not something I may be able to use in Champ Car, but delve that is something I'm going to be able to use throughout my career, you know, everywhere I end up is just I spend one day driving something else completely different than what I'm used to. So it's just a completely different thing. You have to make yourself ready to learn something very fast, we have only one big test and that was the biggest thing is adjusting to the situation.

Q. Is Formula One in your future distantly, or some time soon?

Cristiano da Matta: Well, right now, I don't see anywhere in my future. Right now, I'm still concentrating in the CART Championship. Of course curiosity I have for Formula One racing, especially the way the car is, I kind of use that. I don't have this inside of me anymore. But as far as a drive, no, I don't have that anymore. Right now, I don't have anything. It's something that maybe in the future, like if I am extremely successful in cars and I feel like I accomplish everything I want in CART, maybe I decide to go there, but right now, 100 percent of my focus is in CART.

Merrill Cain: Thank you very much for spending a few minutes with us. We look forward to seeing you in a couple of days at Portland International Raceway.


da Matta, part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Cristiano da Matta