Da Matta close to Toyota F1 deal

Champ Car series leader Cristiano da Matta is expected to be rubber-stamped as Toyota's new Formula 1 driver for 2003 within the next two weeks, according to AUTOSPORT magazine

Da Matta close to Toyota F1 deal

The Brazilian has a contract for next year with his CART team Newman-Haas. But Toyota, which powers Newman-Haas in Champ Cars, is negotiating to buy him out of it.

No final deal has been signed, but insiders have confirmed that a preliminary agreement is in place for da Matta to make the switch. The only stumbling block is the size of the fee team boss Carl Haas asks for to release him.

Da Matta, who tested for Toyota's F1 team at Paul Ricard in May, denied knowledge of the deal, but did admit F1 was his target.

"I wouldn't want to go to F1 just to make up the numbers, but Toyota has the resources, and the possibility for the team to grow is very big," he said.

For the full story and the most comprehensive round-up of this week's Formula 1 news, see AUTOSPORT magazine, on sale from today (Thursday).

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