Da Matta hopeful of return

Cristiano da Matta made a welcome return to Champ Car racing on Friday, arriving at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with manager Fernando de Paiva in tow.

Da Matta hopeful of return

It's no secret that da Matta is considering a return to the Newman/Haas Racing with which he won the 2002 Champ Car World Series. The Brazilian has revealed that a deal could be sealed with the team, but it's down to issues of sponsorship.

"I think we still have a chance to put a car together, but it depends on sponsorship," da Matta said. "It's difficult to say now what the percentage chance of it happening are. I think there is a good chance for it to happen but with these deals you never know until everything is signed. I have other options for next year, but what I want to do is run here with Newman/Haas."

With Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira expected back next season, Newman/Haas would have to add a third car for da Matta. Carl Haas admits that that wouldn't be a problem, however.

"I like Cristiano," Haas said. "We had a great relationship for a couple of years. He won the championship with us in 2002. He and I got along very well, and we still do.

"I spoke with his manager on and off in the last month or so, and no one is against doing (a three-car team): Paul Newman, myself, the engineers are all for it. Our people would love to have Cristiano back with us. There's no real animosity to the idea from our current drivers . . . which is kind of surprising (because) they're very competitive guys."

Haas agreed that the deal would be down to sponsorship. "If we can make it work I'd like to do it," he says. "But we don't have it together yet. It's not a one per cent chance (of happening) and it's not 100 per cent. We're working on it, somewhat. Forget somewhat. We're working on it."

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