View Full Version : da Matta Interview

01-23-03, 12:19 AM

Nothing earth-shattering, but still a nice piece.

01-23-03, 08:21 AM
It's good to see that last season hasn't tainted everyone's view of CART, as evidenced by the writer, anyhow...

"In CART, overtaking is never a really big issue, the drivers managing to pass each other for position, on all circuits..."

Winter Warlock!

01-23-03, 09:51 AM
Here's a bit from AtlasF1 on DaMatta:

Da Matta Feeling the Pressure
Cristiano da Matta is starting to wonder if, perhaps, this time he has bitten off a bit more than he can chew. Having taken the CART Championship, da Matta was enticed to Formula One by Toyota, to start up what should be an extended stay in the team, as they work their way up the performance ladder.

In order to entice the driver over from the States, Toyota have made a number of promises concerning the car they will deliver this season; indeed, they even committed to hiring at least one driver with an established testing pedigree. Of course, Olivier Panis was not hired for his testing skills alone: after performing on a par with Jacques Villeneuve for a couple of seasons, half the paddock considers him one of the best value for money on the park. Experienced, quick, consistent, keen as mustard, and a known quantity, Panis is an impressive barometer for performance.

To date, da Matta has been having an eventful time, as he struggles to come to terms with the TF102B – which, whilst not the best car of last season, is certainly a fair example of the Formula One genre. Ironically, it seems that the very things that made him so useful in a Champ car, are causing him to struggle in the new medium. Da Matta's speed is based on his car control – he feels for the limits of performance, and adjusts the car to run on the limit… though it's not quite that simple. In fact, he establishes the limit by overdriving the car, continually adjusting to recovering it from falling off the track. Formula One cars are known for being noticeably less forgiving than their CART brethren, generally making overdriving an expensive pastime. Whilst Montoya, who also likes to overdrive, adjusted to the sensitivity in short order, da Matta is struggling.

As if da Matta hadn't enough stress, when youngsters like Nico Rosberg test – for winning the BMW ADAC Championship, he was awarded a test day with the BMW-Williams team – and find themselves only a couple of seconds off the pace of the established drivers in the same car, it puts pressure on the far more experienced drivers to perform.

Adding insult to injury, the very driver aids that allow relatively inexperienced (if talented) drivers to put on such a display, are the biggest obstacle to da Matta's transition. Keeping the car on the limit requires faith in these aids – particularly, knowing that the traction assistance really will control the back end of the car, whilst it feels as though it should be sliding out.

Until da Matta has established how to get the best out of the car, he cannot really get to grips with providing direction for its development. In the meanwhile, Olivier Panis is on the case, and whilst the improvements he asks for are undoubtedly going to be useful for both drivers, it's Panis' priorities that are going to be met. The longer that goes on, the steeper the slope da Matta has to climb to get on terms with his teammate...

Given the work he has put in, da Matta is getting frustrated. In his own mind, there is so much to learn about what goes on in and around the car, and away from the track, that being focussed on getting up to speed is becoming a big deal. He is intent on succeeding in Formula One, and is all too aware that the modern champion has to be a master of every aspect of the game. Anything that has the potential to offer the slightest advantage must be leveraged.

To date, Toyota has been patient with da Matta's progress. The driver has been working hard, and taken every opportunity to get out and test. Whilst disappointed that he is not immediately on the pace, it was always expected to take some time. So much so, that their conservative view was that getting on terms with Panis by mid-season would be considered a good adjustment. Which is a lot more generous than da Matta is prepared to be with himself!

01-23-03, 02:25 PM
I'll give da Matta this - he's living there (right?), and testing whenever he can. More than can be said about some other racing "luminaries" (Mikey, are you listening?).

01-28-03, 08:45 PM
I think CDM will be just fine. He may not be as exciting as JPM, but he does go about his job in a quiet & methodical way and I think this will work towards his advantage. Today he was .5ths off Panis, which is still a lot, but it's better than the 2-3 second gap that was there a few months ago (although he was using a different car than Olivier).

I think people forget how good Panis really is. He's given JV a good run for the money. I look for CDM to being outqualified a lot in the first half of the season, and then maybe he'll get a few over Panis in the latter half.

Dr. Corkski
01-29-03, 01:40 AM
da Matta will make Panis look like Prost. Zonta's hiring as the test and reserve driver, if anything, shows Toyota's lack of confidence in da Matta to be fast enough to finish the season.

01-29-03, 08:05 AM
Considering Toyota's trials and tribulations in their early CART years and the fact that da Matta DID produce a Championship for them, I would think they would be more tolerant of his learning curve versus someone like Mc Nish or Salo. Panis early showing will obviously be due to his experience in F1. I expect da Matta to narrow any gap that exists the second half of the year.

02-04-03, 09:24 AM
1 R. Barrichello Ferrari 1.16.900 64
2 M. Schumacher Ferrari 1.17.282 88
3 C. Da Matta Toyota 1.17.653 77
4 J. Trulli Renault 1.17.778 54
5 J. Button BAR 1.17.826 66
6 N. Heidfeld Sauber 1.17.907 94
7 A. Pizzonia Jaguar 1.18.079 41
8 J. Villeneuve BAR 1.18.342 68
9 J.P. Montoya Williams 1.18.511 41
10 R. Schumacher Williams 1.18.725 62
11 A. McNish Renault 1.19.203 64

Only 4 tenths slower than Schumacher. Is that good enough for pre-season? lets bear in mind that Toyota has another 3 test session scheduled before the Aussie GP, so I think CDM will make a lot of people eat their words.

02-04-03, 10:06 AM
Originally posted by molive
Only 4 tenths slower than Schumacher. Is that good enough for pre-season? lets bear in mind that Toyota has another 3 test session scheduled before the Aussie GP, so I think CDM will make a lot of people eat their words.

Pre-season testing means nothing.

I think he won't catch up with Panis until about mid-season when they turn off the driver aids - which will help him.

02-04-03, 10:29 AM
Yup. Make absolutely no assumptions as to how the season will pan out based on pre-season testing. I actually had my hopes up for Alesi's last season, smashing track records in that beautiful blue Prost, and regularly testing ahead of the Macs. By the time they lined up in Australia he was in regular Prost position, more than halfway off the point of the grid.

Preseason means nothing to anyone outside of the teams. Even if it's the same track, same day, same conditions... it just don't matter.

Winter Warlock!

02-04-03, 10:11 PM
looks like CDM thinks differently. he was very happy with this last sessions, finally getting the feel of the TF-03.

He's far from "struggling" (as the AtlasF1 article claims). Thats my point.:cool: