Da Matta: I'm Scared of Nobody

Toyota's new Formula One rookie Cristiano da Matta believes that if his car is right he can rattle Michael Schumacher just like Juan Pablo Montoya did after winning America's CART title.

Da Matta: I'm Scared of Nobody

Toyota's new Formula One rookie Cristiano da Matta believes that if his car is right he can rattle Michael Schumacher just like Juan Pablo Montoya did after winning America's CART title.

Brazilian da Matta, highly-rated by Williams driver Montoya, has said he has no fears about taking on Formula One's finest when he joins the grid as the US series' reigning champion next year.

Speaking during his first test with Toyota, da Matta, 28, said: "I am scared of nobody on the track. When I started racing my father told me, 'Cristiano, nobody has three balls, but some people have two very good ones'.

"You know, nobody makes magic, but if they have the talent and know how to drive and how to put things in place around them then they will do well. I think there are maybe eight guys in Formula One who are very good, but in Champ Cars there are probably six on the same level.

"For me, (Michael) Schumacher is the best, but it's difficult to compare how much better he is because how can you judge when there is a difference in the equipment."

Although da Matta remains a big fan of Champ Cars - where he was groomed for stardom by Toyota - the challenge of getting to grips with Formula One, plus the lure of Europe's Grand Prix circuits, was too big an attraction.

"If I wanted to be a hero I could have just stayed in America and kept winning races with the best team," he said. "I was getting paid more in America than I will be in F1, but I don't care about the money. That's not what's important to me. So long as I have enough to pay for my guitars and bicycles then I'm happy. I have quite a simple life.

"I'm not expected to be fighting for the Championship or even winning races next year. Of course I want to be the hero again, but it's going to take some time."

Da Matta is well aware his career could be at stake if he fails to get the results expected of him in Formula One and admits he fears failure. While fellow former Champ Car champions Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve both made an immediate impact, there have been failures, too, as both Italian Alex Zanardi and American Michael Andretti discovered.

"I have no idea if I'm as good as Montoya - maybe I'll be able to tell you in a year," he added. "But if I have to leave F1 because I was too slow then I'm not going to be sad because I lost my job and won't be being paid. I'm going to be sad because I couldn't do it. If the other guys are driving better than me then that hurts a lot."

Da Matta and French teammate Olivier Panis tested their Toyotas for the first time at the Circuit de Catalunya this week. Panis, a former Monaco GP winner and once tipped to become France's successor to Alain Prost, has moved to Toyota from BAR having been replaced by Briton Jenson Button.

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