CART FedEx Championship Series An interview with: Cristiano da Matta Kenny Brack Christian Fittipaldi Part 2 of 2 Merrill Cain: Anymore further questions for Christian and Kenny? Q: [Townsend] Bell took out Junqueira today and [CART ...
CART FedEx Championship Series
An interview with:
Cristiano da Matta
Part 2 of 2
Merrill Cain: Anymore further questions for Christian and Kenny?
Q: [Townsend] Bell took out Junqueira today and [CART Chief Steward] Wally [Dallenbach] parked him. I'm just curious if either of you guys had any run-ins with Townsend? Do you think it is about time that Wally parked somebody for knocking somebody off?
Kenny Brack: I don't want to discuss that in public, really.
Christian Fittipaldi: I honestly didn't even know what happened, but I think an example should be set. I don't even want to comment on who was right and who was wrong. I don't even know about it. But once an example is set then maybe the next couple of races people will wake up and say, ooh, if I play it tough here or if I play it wrong, Wally will park me. So you have to take it easy and at the same time this is a sport and we are all trying our very best out there. But it's not a demolition derby. Again, I honestly don't know what happened. I am not pointing fingers at anyone. I am just commenting.
Q: Comment on racing on the tight streets here then going to Cleveland next week where it's nice and big and wide.
Kenny Brack: I like Toronto, especially now since I finished on the podium. But I think I finished on the podium in Cleveland too so I like that track as well. It's different, Cleveland is more open and it's faster, but it has a lot of bumps. It's actually bumpier than this street course so that's kind of interesting for a road race. But it's a little bit different. We'll use the same strategy and everything. So we're looking forward to it.
Christian Fittipaldi: Cleveland is going to be very simple. In qualifying, all 18 cars are going to wait until the very last second to go out because the chances of having any kind of read flag are very slim. And we all know what is going to happen at the start of the race. Everyone is going to dash for that first corner, see if they can get a good start, hope to not get tangled and then race from there.
Merrill Cain: We don't even have to show up now. That's good. (LAUGHTER).
Q: What can you say about your weekend? What can you say about tying the all-time CART record with Alex Zanardi here in Toronto?
Cristiano da Matta: Of course I feel of course very, very pleased with my weekend. Since Friday morning everything went well, we didn't have any kind of problems apart from the one I caused in Friday qualifying but everything was very smooth for me. It feels like everything else that could happen when you are not in a good position goes out of your way too. So it's very good to know that everything is going so smooth for us.
Merrill Cain: Did it feel special to you having Alex in the stand and having him wave the green and the checkered flag for you?
Cristiano da Matta: For me it feels very special just to see him and to see how well he is doing. To see him in that good of shape and how happy he is right now, that for me means a lot more than whatever number of wins you can get.
Q: I wonder if you might give us a brief critique of Alex Zanardi as the official starter. He how did he do?
Cristiano da Matta: He did very well because I think Tracy took off before me. It was very clear he did a very good job (laughs).
Q: Racers talk about dream seasons. We're far from over, but do you look forward to being on the top of the charts? And a second question, are there any tracks you are concerned about?
Cristiano da Matta: I think for the upcoming road courses I am pretty confident that we're going to be on the pace in most of them. I would say in all, there are two tracks that I am concerned about. The biggest one is Germany because we were so slow there last year. It was unbelievable. We were like two seconds off the pace, and I was very lucky I had a mechanical problem in the first stint otherwise I was going to be lapped 10 times or something. Our car is getting better on the ovals. We proved that in Chicago, but I still have a little bit of concern going into Germany. England, not so much because even with the situation we had there last year I was still able to finish on the podium there. But I think Germany is the biggest one.
Q: Can you relate at all to what it is to be Tiger Woods in light of what you are doing now on the CART circuit?
Cristiano da Matta: No. If I keep on doing that for another five, six years then maybe. But I'm just halfway there so you cannot say anything. It's still too early.
Q: Can you talk about your race? Did you have any problems? Was it the cruise that it looked like from the sidelines? Again, toward the end of the race during a couple of restarts there was always the chance for something to go wrong in a race that otherwise looked like it was pretty solidly yours.
Cristiano da Matta: Well, I think that with the new format we have on these races you will never have a cruise race because even when you are up front you are always trying to build as big as a gap as you can just in case something else happens. The bigger gap you have, of course, the more chance you have to come racing out in front of someone. If I mistimed a yellow or if somebody's playing a different strategy it would hurt us, so for me it wasn't a cruise. I was pushing as hard as I could from Lap 1 to the end. I only took it easy to be honest in the last 4 laps because I had a pretty good gap. I was expecting the race to be very different than it was - I thought it was going to be different because in qualifying everybody fast. I was very concerned about all those drivers in the top six because they were all very competitive drivers and teams and everybody was close together. So on the start, I was able to get a good jump and I thought I was going to be followed very close from Paul, Bruno, Kenny, Dario [Franchitti], Christian and everybody. I thought it was going to be very close racing. But I was very surprised that my car was running that well on the first stint. I was able to build up a gap on cold tires. I was able to get a good lead, a good comfortable gap in the first couple of laps. But on the other hand I think it was Kenny that was running second at that time and he started to close the gap on me. The gap was up to 11 seconds and he made it all the way down to five seconds because I was being held by [Alex] Tagliani. At that time I was a little concerned. A yellow actually came out at a good time for me, so I came in and after that yellow I had one restart that I had Kenny right behind me. I knew he was fast because he was closing the gap on me. The next restart he was behind me too. One thing I had to my advantage was brand new tires for that stint. I saved one set of tires on Saturday morning and I was able to make good use of that. I think with these new rules it's never a cruise. You always have to be driving as hard as you can.
Merrill Cain: You were given a pair of lucky bicycling socks when you made an advance media visit. You flashed the socks a little bit before the race. That had to feel pretty good.
Cristiano da Matta: That was good. I went for an advance for the Vancouver Grand Prix. I was very well treated by all the Canadians there. I got there in the morning and was going to leave at night. So I didn't take anything, just my wallet and nothing else more. And they gave me all these cd's, bicycle socks, bicycle jerseys and shorts. So on the way back I had this big bag and I told them that I was going to use the socks they gave me in the race here in Toronto, along with the race at Vancouver and Montreal because the socks had Canadian flags on them.
Merrill Cain: We won't fine you for this, that's fine.
Cristiano da Matta: Actually I have to meet those guys. I saw them before the race and when I was in the truck I showed them that I was using the socks.
Merrill Cain: I think on behalf of everybody I hope you wash the socks before Montreal.
Cristiano da Matta: He gave me three pairs of socks. I have one for each Canadian race.
Merrill Cain: They are smart here in Canada. They know what they are doing.
Q: Do you have any sense of having a hot streak like this, of how special it is? Do you have a sense that it's very special or do you just feel like you are doing your job and things are just falling to you right now?
Cristiano da Matta: No, I think this is very special and it doesn't happen all the time. Things are falling our way. It happens because we have a very good team behind us. When you win one race or the other it can
happen because sometimes you get lucky or a yellow goes your way. But when you win a lot of race it means the team is doing their work very well, the engine manufacturer is doing their work very well, the chassis manufacturers and the crew is preparing the car for each race week It's just a combination of everything. Everybody is doing their part very well. So it's not just happening for nothing. There are many, many reasons that this is happening, and we have been working hard to make this happen.
Q: Flip-side of that question. Did you feel like a marked man during other years when everybody is wallet racing everybody else? Now everybody says 'what do we do to beat Cristiano?' Do you feel like everyone is out to get you on the track?
Cristiano da Matta: No, I don't think so. There's a lot of respect on the track between all the drivers. I have been in this situation before when Juan Montoya was here winning lots of races. All the other drivers start to get mad and wonder how this guy is winning all these races and how do we stop him. (Laughs). And it feels pretty good to be on the other side now. (Laughs).
Q: On that same note, do you still have sympathy for others when things go wrong?
Cristiano da Matta: It doesn't take much for things to go wrong in a race. It just takes a very, very little bit. Of course when things are going right, and in a race like today for example, when we go to pit, all the crew guys know we have an advantage so they don't rush everything so much. In a race like Chicago or Portland for example, everything is on the limit and everybody is pushed to the edge. You take more chances with traffic and you take more chances with everything. I had a bigger gap today and I was able to think and take my time to find the best way. Maybe that's one of the reasons why nothing bad is happening to us right now.
Merrill Cain: Cristiano, thank you very much. Congratulations on the fourth consecutive victory tying the CART record. We will see you in Cleveland.
Toronto winners press conference part I