CHAMPCAR/CART: 2002 champion Da Matta heads to Formula 1

Dominant 2002 season sends reigning CART Champion Cristiano da Matta to Formula One with two-year Toyota contract. INDIANAPOLIS (November 5, 2002) - 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series champion Cristiano da Matta will leave the Champ Car series ...

CHAMPCAR/CART: 2002 champion Da Matta heads to Formula 1

Dominant 2002 season sends reigning CART Champion Cristiano da Matta to Formula One with two-year Toyota contract.

INDIANAPOLIS (November 5, 2002) - 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series champion Cristiano da Matta will leave the Champ Car series for a chance to follow his childhood dream and race in Formula 1.

Cristiano da Matta celebrates 2002 CART Championship with Paul Newman and Carl Haas.
Photo by Earl Ma/BRG.

Da Matta attracted the attention of the Toyota brass with one of the most dominant CART Champ Car campaigns in recent memory, winning seven races with the Nov. 17 Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa remaining on the calendar. The Brazilian tied a CART record this season with four consecutive victories and became the first driver since Dario Franchitti in 1999 to earn 10 podium finishes in a year. The 29-year-old da Matta signed a two-year deal with the fledgling outfit and joins former BAR pilot Olivier Panis as the team's drivers. To counter da Matta's departure, Newman/Haas Racing announced that Bruno Junqueira would drive for the team in 2003.

"I have accomplished one of my goals by winning the CART driver's championship title," da Matta said. "I am very thankful to Carl Haas, Paul Newman and all of Newman/Haas Racing for the support, hard work and accomplishments that we have achieved together. Now I am ready for the next challenge."

Da Matta becomes the third CART champion to move directly to Formula 1 after winning the Champ Car title, joining Jacques Villeneuve (1995), and Alex Zanardi (1997-98) as he takes a spot with the second-year Toyota F1 effort. The move raises the total of former CART titlewinners that eventually moved to Formula 1 to five as 1999 titlist Juan Montoya joined WilliamsF1 in 2001 while 1991 CART champion Michael Andretti drove in F1 competition during the 1993 season.

"Cristiano da Matta has certainly demonstrated what it takes to win a CART championship," said CART President and CEO Christopher R. Pook. "Our championship winner truly must be a master of many different types of tracks and Cristiano has done that from the beginning of his CART career. He's a tremendous champion and the fact that a Formula 1 team has signed him demonstrates what a high regard that other racing organizations have for our series and our top drivers. If he can get to Formula One using CART as a platform, that's a big feather in our hat."

Championship Auto Racing Teams, Inc. (NYSE: MPH) owns, operates and markets the CART FedEx Championship Series. Newly-crowned 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series champion Cristiano da Matta is among the open-wheel stars competing with teams such as Newman/Haas Racing, Player's/Forsythe Racing, Team Rahal, Fernandez Racing, Patrick Racing, Herdez Competition, Mo Nunn Racing, Walker Racing and others. CART Champ Cars are thoroughbred racing machines that reach speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour, showcasing the technical expertise of manufacturers such as Ford Motor Company, Lola Cars, Reynard Motorsport and Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire, LLC. The 19-race 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS, FOX and SPEED Channel. CART also owns and operates its top development series, the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship. Learn more about CART's open-wheel racing series at www.cart.com.

-cart-

Formula One

shares
comments
CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana race results
Previous article

CHAMPCAR/CART: Fontana race results

Next article

IRL: Foyt, Foyt IV press conference, part I

IRL: Foyt, Foyt IV press conference, part I
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021