Toyota call up Zonta to replace lame duck Da Matta

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Cristiano da Matta has been dropped by Toyota for the rest of the Formula One season, with the test driver Ricardo Zonta called up as his replacement.

Da Matta has had a difficult season and will leave Toyota at the end of the season when Ralf Schumacher and, almost certainly, Jarno Trulli are drafted in. But Toyota have ended the Brazilian's season early by dropping him from their race driver line-up in favour of his countryman Zonta, the team's third driver this year.

This season has been a disappointing one for Toyota, who have one of the biggest budgets in the sport but are seventh in the constructors' championship. Da Matta, a former Champ Car title winner, has scored only three points this year. His team-mate, Olivier Panis, has scored five.

Zonta's first chance to show he is ready for a return to Formula One comes next weekend in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Ralf Schumacher will miss that race as he has not recovered from the cracked vertebrae he sustained in a crash at the Indianapolis Grand Prix in June according to reports in Germany.His manager, Willi Weber, said: "Ralf's two broken vertebrae are not yet as hardened as is normally the case. Another accident like the one in Indianapolis and Ralf could be made a paraplegic. Nobody could accept that."