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Cristiano Monteiro da Matta (born September 19, 1973 in Belo Horizontemarker, MG, Brazil) is an auto racing driver, winner of the American CART Championship in 2002, and former Formula One driver with the Toyota team.

Career biography

Origins and early career



Da Matta's father was Toninho da Matta, a 14-time Brazilian touring car champion. He began karting at the age of 16, adopting a helmet design nearly identical to his famous father's helmet. He quickly rose to the top by winning numerous karting championships before winning the 1993 Brazilian Formula Ford championship. In 1994, he continued his successful ways, winning the Formula Three Sudamericana championship. In 1995, da Matta participated in the British Formula Three series. He then placed 8th in the following year's Formula 3000 championship, with a best finish of 4th at Paumarker.

North American racing

1997 saw da Matta move to the United Statesmarker for the Indy Lights racing series, in which he won Rookie of the Year honors. The next year (1998), he won the championship by winning 7 races and securing 4 pole positions. In 1999, da Matta raced in the CART series for Team Arciero Wells, which were running Toyota engines; da Matta drove a Toyota-powered car from then until 2004. His first win came in 2000, and despite some sponsor opposition he joined the front-running Newman/Haas Racing team for 2001. He won the CART drivers' championship in 2002 under Toyota power with the Newman/Haas Racing team, dominating the year with 7 race wins and 7 poles.

Formula One

Da Matta completed his move up the racing ladder in 2003, reaching the pinnacle of motor sport with the Toyota Formula One team. He scored 10 championship points that year, four more than seasoned veteran and teammate Olivier Panis, and soon made a name for himself in Formula One when he spent much of the first half of the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix hounding reigning World Champion Michael Schumacher in the monsoon-hit race. His fortunes took a downturn in 2004, however. Having scored only 3 championship points, da Matta lost his race seat to Ricardo Zonta after the German Grand Prix in Hockenheim. Da Matta vowed to never again race in Formula One, as he felt it was not competitive enough, with too much emphasis on car performance.

Return to USA

In 2005, da Matta moved back to the Champ Car World Series, to race for the PKV Racing team. That season he won the race at Portlandmarker, and finished 11th overall in the standings. For the 2006 Champ Car season, he switched to the Dale Coyne Racing to drive the No.19 Ford Lola, until June 9, 2006, when he switched teams again, to take over A.J. Allmendinger's seat at RuSPORT. Second place at San Jose left him 6th overall in the series.

Collision with deer during test

On August 3, 2006 da Matta's car was involved in a collision with a deer that ran in front of him as he headed towards turn 6 during Champ Car open testing at Road Americamarker. He hit the deer with his right front tire, the deer then flew back and hit da Matta in the cockpit. It is believed when the deer hit da Matta in the cockpit, he was knocked unconscious. He remained unconscious with his foot still on the brake when the safety crew arrived and extricated da Matta from the car. Da Matta was then airlifted to Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsinmarker, where he underwent surgery to remove a subdural hematoma. Following the surgery, da Matta was placed in an induced coma, to allow for the swelling to subside. As of August 7, da Matta was making "slow but steady progress", while the doctors were working on reducing da Matta's level of sedation. This slow recovery was confirmed on August 9, as it was reported that da Matta was able to move "all of his extremities spontaneously as well as in response to physical stimulation". On August 20, da Matta was transferred out of intensive care. On August 30, da Matta was confirmed to have made steady progress, conversing in English and Portuguese, and walking short distances. On 21 September 2006, da Matta was allowed to leave the hospital after having recovered better than expected.

When the Champ Car World Series returned to race in the Grand Prix of Road America on September 24, da Matta gave the traditional command - "start your engines". Throughout the next couple of years, he engaged in a training and therapy regime while deciding his racing future.

Comeback

On March 20, 2008 da Matta climbed back into a race car for the first time since his accident, completing a two-day test in a Riley Daytona Prototype prepared by reigning Rolex Sports Car Series champions GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing. He found speed right away, and team owner Bob Stallings said "the comeback has begun." da Matta said, "After the test, I realized 'I still know how to do this, I remember this very well. The biggest thing I felt after the test was just a sense of relief. For me, it was a big, big relief, bigger than big." da Matta paired with former Champ Car champion, Jimmy Vasser, to enter the Rolex Series racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Secamarker in 2008. after a solid race, the pair were classified in 32nd position.

Personal

Da Matta participated in gymnastics as a youth, at one point training with the Club Flamengo's Olympic team. Da Matta and his girlfriend Vanessa, live in Miami, Floridamarker. They have been together for five years.

Motorsports Career Results

Formula One

(key)
Year Entrant Chassis Engine 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 WDC Pts.
2003 Panasonic Toyota Racing Toyota TF103 Toyota V10 AUS

Ret
MAL

11
BRA

10
SMR

12
ESP

6
AUT

10
MON

9
CAN

11
EUR

Ret
FRA

11
GBR

7
GER

6
HUN

11
ITA

Ret
USA

9
JPN

7
13th 10
2004 Panasonic Toyota Racing Toyota TF104 Toyota V10 AUS

12
MAL

9
BHR

10
SMR

Ret
ESP

13
MON

6
EUR

Ret
CAN

DSQ
USA

Ret
FRA

14
GBR

13
GER

Ret
HUN BEL ITA CHN JPN BRA 17th 3


American Open-Wheel racing

(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)

CART/Champ Car

Year Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Rank Points
1999 Arciero-Wells

MIA
14


MOT
Ret


LBH
Ret


NAZ
4


RIO
Ret


GAT
Ret


MIL
11


POR
11


CLE
Ret


ROA
Ret


TOR
Ret


MIC
Ret


DET
Ret


MDO
9


CHI
14


VAN
5


LS
Ret


HOU
11


SRF
Ret


FON
Ret
  18th 32
2000 PPI Motorsports

MIA
12


LBH
Ret


RIO
4


MOT
4


NAZ
13


MIL
14


DET
Ret


POR
5


CLE
3


TOR
4


MIC
Ret


CHI
1


MDO
Ret


ROA
Ret


VAN
7


LS
15


GAT
4


HOU
14


SRF
4


FON
Ret
  10th 112
2001 Newman/Haas

MTY
1


LBH
2


FTW
Canc


NAZ
10


MOT
Ret


MIL
Ret


DET
7


POR
10


CLE
7


TOR
Ret


MIC
4


CHI
19


MDO
10


ROA
6


VAN
Ret


LAU
Ret


ROC
3


HOU
6


LS
Ret


SRFmarker
1


FON

1
5th 140
2002 Newman/Haas

MTY
1


LBH
8


MOT
Ret


MIL
11


LS
1


POR
1


CHI
1


TOR
1


CLE
Ret


VAN
Ret


MDO
13


ROA
1


MTL
2


DEN
3


ROC
2


MIA
1


SRF
8


FON
Ret


MXC
2
    1st 237
2005 PKV

LBH
10


MTY
6


MIL
11


POR
1


CLEmarker
Ret


TOR
Ret


EDMmarker
Ret


SAN
Ret


DEN
Ret


MTL
6


LAS
12


SRFmarker
Ret


MXC
14
                11th 139
2006 Dale Coyne Racing

LBH
5


HOU
9


MTY
9


MIL
Ret


POR


CLE


TOR


EDMmarker


SAN



DEN


MTL


ROA


SRFmarker


MXC
              13th 134
RuSport

LBH


HOU


MTY


MIL


POR
5


CLE
14


TOR
5


EDMmarker
Ret


SAN
2


DEN


MTL


ROA


SRFmarker


MXC
             


External links

References

  1. "RUSPORT ANNOUNCES DRIVER CHANGE", Champ Car World Series, June 9, 2006
  2. "UPDATE: Da Matta In Critical Condition", Speed Channel, August 3, 2006
  3. "Wrong Place, Wrong Time: Cristiano da Matta Still in Critical Condition", PaddockTalk, August 4, 2006
  4. "Update on Condition of RuSPORT Driver Cristiano da Matta", RuSPORT, August 3, 2006
  5. "Update on Condition of Champ Car Driver Cristiano da Matta", RuSPORT, August 5, 2006
  6. "Cristiano da Matta's Condition Continues to Improve", RuSPORT, August 7, 2006
  7. "Cristiano Da Matta Making Steady Progress", RuSPORT, August 9, 2006
  8. "Christiano Da Matta Transferred out of Intensive Care", RuSPORT, August 20, 2006
  9. "More Progress for Cristiano da Matta", RuSPORT, August 30, 2006
  10. "Da Matta leaves hospital", F1technical, September 21, 2006
  11. [1]
  12. da Matta Returns to Track in GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Test, Grand-Am, March 25, 2008



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