Cristiano da Matta Q&A

Cristiano da Matta finally got off the mark when he scored his first points in Spain, following Ralf Schumacher home in a deserved sixth place. It's not been an easy start to the season for the Brazilian, who spun off in Australia and had a terrible home race with handling problems at Interlagos. But he's impressed a lot of people by quietly getting on with the job and by putting in some good times on Fridays, often on tracks he hasn't tested at. He had however ran hundreds of laps at Barcelona, and that showed when he was fourth in first qualifying. Team-mate Olivier Panis still seems to have an edge, but da Matta is getting there. Adam Cooper spoke to the Brazilian

Cristiano da Matta Q&A

"I had a lot of fun in the race. Only the last stint was a bit frustrating, because I had to spend a lot of time behind Ralf, who probably had some big problems with his car in handling. I just couldn't find a way by him. I was massively on the rev limiter on the front straight, so I couldn't even get close."

"For me it was very important, especially Friday, when everybody has the same situation. To be able to be fourth, that was very, very rewarding for me. I think that was a very good opportunity for me to show my speed."

"Yeah, but one time people may think you're lucky. The more times you do it, the better it's going to be! Saturday was a bit frustrating, because the car I had in qualifying wasn't as connected as I wanted it to be, and I tried to compensate by banging front wing on it, and I had massive oversteer in qualifying. For the race we backed off all the front wing we had, and we put a normal, more cautious balance on the car. And it was good. I'm very happy."

"Talking to everybody in the team, they feel a big, big difference from last year to this year. I can feel already a difference from when I joined the team in late November to now. But we still have a lot to improve. Of course it's only the second season, and I feel I have a lot to improve too. I'm not even close to getting to my full potential, and I've just got to keep pushing."

"The situation was very different. Even forgetting about the problems Alex had during the season, he was with Williams in a year that Williams wasn't at its best. I have no doubts about his talent, about what he could have done here. I don't think there are many guys here that are faster than he is. I saw him driving and saw him do things that I never saw Michael doing over here. He was really impressive. His race craft was something I'd put ahead of any other guy. I'm sure he could have done well here. Why he didn't do well, it's difficult to say. He had more pressure than me for sure, because he was in a strong team, and because of how much he dominated in CART, he was definitely under more pressure."

"To everything there are two sides. For sure here everybody is a lot more new to the job than if I'd gone to a team which is more established. But I'm happy and I'm impressed with the progress everybody makes weekend after weekend and even test after test. One thing I think is important is the effort and how much I believe. Since I arrived here I could see 100% from the team side that they believe in me. They did everything they could to give me as many miles as they could give me, to give me more experience, to experience as many situations as they could. I think they did a very good job of preparing me for the season, even though they didn't have a lot of experience. I don't know how it would have been if I'd been in a bigger team that has been here for longer."

"I think I have a similar personality to him. He's very confident about his driving, and he doesn't need to hide anything from me. I feel the same way as him. I feel confident about the car, and if I find something better, I tell him. If he ever comes to me and asks something I always tell him 100% of what I know and what I've learned. Of course it happens a lot more that it's me going and asking him something about set-ups, and he's always 100% open. He's definitely a big help for me."

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