SEPTEMBER 9, 2002
Massa heading for Toyota
It seems now that Cristiano da Matta is not coming to Formula 1 in 2003. Da Matta has reportedly remarked that Toyota only seems to be interested in him as a test driver - and he has no interest in doing that job. Da Matta also said that he was not happy with the way in which Formula 1 teams view the drivers in CART.
It all adds up to a clear sign that Da Matta is going nowhere and that means that the second Toyota drive in Formula 1 is still up for grabs - although our sources say that Felipe Massa may already have done a deal to drive for the Cologne-based team.
Toyota wants a Brazilian driver in order to boost the sale of its cars in Latin America. 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 companies. A successful South American driver will help increase sales of these cars.
Massa is the obvious choice in that he is clearly quick, he has a year of F1 experience and he is going to be relatively cheap as he has no real options having been dropped unexpectedly by the Sauber team. Massa has the advantage over others in that he has the experience in F1. Antonio Pizzonia is thought to have been considered as an option but he has never raced in F1 and is also under a long term contract to Williams.
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