Brazilian Da Matta the fastest among F1 rookies

  • Other Sport
  • Sunday, 23 Mar 2003

BRAZILIAN F1 newcomer Cristiona Da Matta was forced to use a spare car but he will still start ahead of the three other rookies on the grid in the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix at the Sepang F1 Circuit today. 

Da Matta, racing for the Panaonic Toyota Racing Team, posted the fastest time among the rookies to finish 11th after the qualifying session at the Sepang F1 Circuit yesterday. 

His compatriot, Antonio Pizzonia, who had mechanical problems during Friday's qualifying session, put up a better performance yesterday to end up 15th on the grid with a time of 1:38.516. 

Briton Ralph Firman, driving for Jordan, will start last from the grid together with Minardi’s Justin Wilson. 

The 29-year-old Da Matta, who was last year’s CART champion, said he would go faster to be among the top eight drivers today. 

“It was unfortunate that we had to use the spare car for the qualifier today (yesterday). The car did well but I did not have everything tuned the way I wanted,” said Da Matta, who aims to end the point drought for Toyota at Sepang. 

“Considering that this is my first race in Malaysia and the weather was scorching, I am happy with my 11th position, but it could have been better.” 

None of the rookies completed the race at the Melbourne Grand Prix at Albert Park two weeks ago and they will be going out to complete the race in Sepang. 

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