Cristiano da Matta

Full Name:
Cristiano Monteiro da Matta
Born:
19th September 1973 (Age 45)
Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
Nationality:
Brazilian
Most recent race (in database):
Biography

The eldest son of national touring car champion Antônio, Cristiano da Matta stepped out of karts to win the 1993 Brazilian Formula Ford Championship. The national Formula 3 title followed a year later and that success indicated another Brazilian prodigy.

European racing career

He moved to England in 1995 to drive West Surrey Racing’s Dallara F395-Mugen in British F3. Victory at Oulton Park was the highlight but eighth in the championship was a disappointing return. There were glimpses of promise during his only Formula 3000 season although he could not translate raw speed into tangible results for Pacific Racing. Fourth at Pau was his best finish of 1996.

Da Matta decided his ambitions were best served in America and he joined Brian Stewart Racing for the 1997 Indy Lights Championship. Rookie of the Year that season, he transferred to Tasman Motorsports to win the 1998 title.

Champ Cars with PPI and Newman-Haas

That success prompted graduation to Champ Cars in 1999 with Arciero-Wells Racing’s Reynard 99I-Toyota. He was fourth at Nazareth and was only beaten in the rookie standings by Juan Pablo Montoya despite retiring from over half the races. He remained with the rebranded PPI Motorsports for a most promising 2000 campaign. Da Matta won at Chicago and qualified on the front row at Toronto to spark interest from the sharp end of the pitlane.

Chosen to replace Michael Andretti for 2001, it was with Newman-Haas Racing that he became a genuine frontrunner. Victory in the opening race was one of three wins and he dominated 2002 to clinch the title with three rounds to spare.

Formula 1 with Toyota

That was enough for the well-funded Toyota Formula 1 team to sign the 29 year old Brazilian for 2003. He finished sixth in the Spanish and German Grands Prix and led at Silverstone after the race was thrown into confusion when priest and protester Neil Horan invaded the track. Third on the grid at Suzuka in changeable weather conditions, he ended his first F1 season 13th in the final championship standings. The 2004 season was less satisfactory however, a sixth place finish at Monaco apart, and da Matta was sacked after the German GP.

Return to Champ Cars

He returned to Champ Cars in 2005 with PKV Racing and was soon back on form. He won at Portland and ended the year finishing regularly in the top five. He started 2006 with Dale Coyne’s modest outfit and was fifth at Long Beach before switching to the better-funded RuSport concern mid-season as A.J.Allmendinger’s replacement. Second at San José, da Matta was testing at Elkhart Lake a week later when he collided with a deer that had strayed onto the circuit. Travelling at around 90mph at the time of impact, he suffered severe head injuries and medical staff operated at the scene to save his life.

His recuperation was slow but he finally returned in Grand-Am during 2008.

Championship seasons

Season Name Starts Poles Podiums Wins Position Points
2006 Champ Car World Series
RuSport
Dale Coyne Racing
9 0 1 0
0% win rate
15th 134
2005 Champ Car World Series
PKV Racing
13 0 1 1
8% win rate
11th 139
2004 F1 World Championship
Panasonic Toyota Racing
12 0 0 0
0% win rate
17th 3
2003 F1 World Championship
Panasonic Toyota Racing
16 0 0 0
0% win rate
13th 10
2002 FedEx Championship Series
Newman-Haas Racing
19 7 11 7
37% win rate
1st 237
2001 FedEx Championship Series
Newman-Haas Racing
20 (1) 0 5 3
15% win rate
5th 140
2000 FedEx Championship Series
PPI Motorsports
20 0 2 1
5% win rate
10th 112
1999 FedEx Championship Series
Arciero-Wells Racing
20 0 0 0
0% win rate
18th 32
1998 PPG/Dayton Indy Lights Championship 14 3 8 4
29% win rate
1st 154
1997 PPG/Firestone Indy Lights Championship 13 1 5 3
24% win rate
3rd 141
1996 FIA International F3000 Championship
Pacific Racing
10 0 0 0
0% win rate
8th 7
1994 Brazilian F3 Championship 1st -