Cristiano da Matta Q&A

Cristiano da Matta came to Toyota on a high after winning the Champ Car series with Newman/Haas, and while he had impressed a lot of people in America he still had much to prove in his new surroundings. To his credit he was aware as anyone else that he still had much to learn, and in fact the Brazilian settled in with few major problems, and was a solid performer all season. However, having learned the ropes he will have no excuses next year and will have to step up a gear. Adam Cooper asked him about his rookie season.

Cristiano da Matta Q&A



"Overall I am quite happy with the season. I think I'm very disappointed in just one area, and that was the consistency that we had throughout the season. I think we had our very good moments, but very bad moments too. We have to turn that into something more even, in that the way that we are always OK. Some places it seems that we can be close to the four big teams, and in some we are so far away we cannot understand why. We have to set the target for next season to be with those guys all the time, or if not with them, close to them as we've been a couple of times this year."



"For me the first concern I had in my head was if I was going to be able to drive the car or not. I've seen many very talented drivers - and Zanardi was one of the guys I've rated most in my career - who came to F1 and had a difficult time with the cars. So I had a doubt if I could drive these cars with my driving style or not, that was the number one. I'm sure if you put slick tyres on the car Zanardi would be have been one of the quickest guys. I cannot speak on his behalf, but something happened, and it happened with Michael Andretti too. Some guys have a tough time. So I had a concern that I'd have a tough time, which I had, but I think I've been getting better."



"Not really, because I only tested one day before I signed. With one day testing there's too much confusion, it leaves too many question marks."



"Most of them, yes. And then when I first went to Melbourne I had right away a good Friday, and that was good for my confidence, I could see I could do what everybody else was doing. Of course I had my difficulties during the season, but in the first year it's normal. If you make a good start it makes your life much easier for the rest of the championship. Of course you have to learn, and if you go through some hard moments to still keep up and keep confident. I've been through that in my career. I've driven for teams that weren't the best. I've had bad results and I've won championships too, so I think I can handle this psychological factor. But if you ask me if it's easy, it's not!"



"In a way it's a little bit easier because there's not so much set-up work as Champ Cars, but a lot more development on the parts and new pieces and new things for the car. So it's more difficult to keep up with car development as a whole thing than just the set-up. The set-up part is not so difficult."



"I think this is one of the keys for any team to succeed. You have to trust 100 per cent who you're working with, and they have to trust you too. If at any time one of the two parties feels that there's some doubt in the air, it makes it not natural. To be quick and to win you have to have everything 100 per cent, and there's no time for doubts, lack of trust, and question marks about each other."



"In a way it made my life a bit more difficult, because if I had more experience then helping the team would be easier for me. Sometimes I was in doubt about something and they were in doubt too, and we couldn't get it right. That was a negative point. But the positive point is that because we're both new to the scene, it gives you that team feeling, that you're going to grow up together. This may sound like it's nothing, but it helps a lot. When everybody is enthusiastic about what they are doing, and pushing in each area that they are working to the maximum, it reflects on the results."



"Olivier is very fast, and very experienced. What else can you ask from a team-mate? He's very open and a nice guy, which I know is not a normal thing to find in F1, such an open relationship between the team mates."



"Qualifying in Suzuka was definitely. Apart from the points we scored we also had some good races where we didn't actually capitalise on them with points. But for me personally my highest point was Silverstone. Even though it was not my best result, I think for me it was the best one."



"Yes it was still fun. It's not as if there was nobody pressuring me, it was a difficult situation, and I was able to go through it with no problems."



"The lowest point was definitely Brazil. To have a performance as we had in Brazil in the rain, in front of my home crowd in my first Brazilian GP, was very bad!"



"The thing I've learned here is that in F1 the situation can change really quickly. There are opportunities that aren't presented to you very often. So when they do show up in front of you, you have really to take them. In every area, in driving, in setting-up, you have to be more switched on for what's going on around you."



"Knowing all the circuits is a huge advantage. This is one point that I thought wasn't going to be a big thing, but with the amount of track time you get in F1, you have to know the circuits to have a decent season."



"In the off season I'm going to know what I need out of every circuit, and test having those things in mind and setting up the car having those things in mind. It's a big thing."

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