SEPTEMBER 6, 2002
Da Matta's dream turns sour?
Cristiano da Matta has admitted that he thinks he going to be staying in CART next year. The Brazilian says that Toyota does not seem to be interested in him being anything more than a test driver next year - and that does not interest him at all. Speaking to Autosport magazine in London, da Matta said that he did not like the attitude he has encountered in F1 regarding the qualifications of drivers in CART.
This is interesting news as it opens the way for another Brazilian to take the second Toyota drive alongside Olivier Panis. The latest word from Japan is that Toyota wants a Brazilian in order to boost sales in South America. The obvious choices are Felipe Massa, Enrique Bernoldi and Antonio Pizzonia although Luciano Burti should probably also be included as a possible option.
The push for a Brazilian comes in the wake of a $300m investment in the Toyota plant at Indaiatuba in the state of Sao Paulo. It is now equipped to produce 57,000 cars a year, a major increase from the original 15,000 capacity. Corollas built at Indaiatuba are to be sold in Brazil while also being exported to other Latin American countries. A successful South American driver would obviously help to sell cars.
Of the choices available Massa seems the best bet. Pizzonia is under a long-term contract with Williams and the team would like to have him available in 2005. At the same time, the team would like him to get some racing experience in F1. However, if Massa is willing to commit to a long term deal with Toyota he would most likely be the choice.
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