CRISTIANO DA MATTA
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Born: 19 September 1973 – Belo Horizonte, Brazil
- Marital Status: Single
- Height: 1.65m
- Weight: 59kg
- Hobbies: Guitar, Cycling and Swimming
- 2003 Classification: 13th (8 points)
- 2003 Best Qualifying: 3rd, Japanese Grand Prix
- 2003 Best Race: 6th, Spanish, German Grand Prix
- 2004 Best Race: 6th, Monaco Grand Prix
No longer the new kid on the F1 block, Cristiano da Matta entered the 2004 Formula 1 World Championship on an equal footing with his rivals for the first time. This year is his second season in Formula 1 so, aside from China and Bahrain, which are new to everyone, Cristiano knows all the tracks and had hoped that we would see what he can really do in a Formula 1 car. Sadly, the car has proved uncompetitive so far.
“When you have to spend most of Friday learning a track, it puts you at a big disadvantage to the others,” he says, “particularly in terms of car set-up. At least now I can get straight on with the important stuff, and I think that will show in my performances over the year.
“With the revised car due at Silverstone or Hockenheim I hope to impress in the second half of the season.”
Cristiano enjoyed a successful and often impressive transition from CART to Formula 1 in his debut season for Panasonic Toyota Racing. He scored a sensational third place qualifying position at Toyota’s home race at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka and is hopeful of improving on his 13th position in 2003’s final World Championship standings in 2004.
“In my experience, nothing comes close to the sheer thrill of driving a Formula 1 car,” says Da Matta. “But when you get racing that feeling quickly wears off and you want results. I am sure that we will be battling for points at each of the races this year.”
Da Matta’s first year as a Toyota driver was back in 1999 when team Arciero Wells, which was powered by Toyota engines, called him up to the American CART series. The Brazilian was impressive in the opening race, claiming fourth position on the grid, the best of all the Toyota-powered drivers. Two races later, in Nazareth, he earned a best finish of fourth.
In 2000, Cristiano drove for the renamed PPI Motorsports in a Toyota/Reynard and took his first victory, at Chicago. He was placed 10th in the overall championship standings.
Cristiano joined Newman/Haas in 2001 and took his Toyota-powered Lola to three victories and a five podium finishes, contributing to fifth place overall in the championship.
Da Matta captured the 2002 CART drivers’ championship with Newman-Haas Racing and Toyota, dominating the series. He achieved seven poles and scored seven victories and 10 podium finishes during the course of the season.
CAREER AT A GLANCE
- 2004 – F1 – Panasonic Toyota Racing
- 2003 – F1 – Panasonic Toyota Racing: 13th
- 2002 – FedEx CART Championship – Newman-Haas/Toyota: 1st (7 wins)
- 2001 – FedEx CART Championship – Newman-Haas/Toyota: 5th (3 wins)
- 2000 – FedEx CART Championship – PPI Motorsports/Toyota: 10th (1 win)
- 1999 – FedEx CART Championship – Arciero Wells/Toyota: 18th (runner-up to Juan Pablo Montoya for “Rookie of the Year” title)
- 1998 – Indy Lights: 1st (4 wins)
- 1997 – Indy Lights: 3rd (3 wins and “Rookie of the Year” title)
- 1996 – European Formula 3000: 8th
- 1995 – British Formula 3: 8th (1 win)
- 1994 – Brazilian Formula 3: 1st (4 wins)
- 1993 – Brazilian Formula Ford: 1st (4 wins)
- 1992 – Rio-Minas Championship: 1st, Sao Paolo Championship: 1st
- 1990, 1991 – Minas Championship: 1st
- 1990-1992 – Various karting championships in Brazil