Former Formula 1 driver Cristiano da Matta has returned to racing just over a year and a half since his near-fatal accident in America.
Da Matta driver for Toyota but returned to the American Champ Car series and, in a manner eerily similar to Alessandro Zanardi, suffered very serious injuries in a freak accident shortly after making his comeback.
Da Matta was testing at the Elkhart Lake circuit in mid-2006 when his car struck a deer which had got onto the circuit. He was hospitalised for two months with severe head injuries.
Although his F1 career was brief (28 starts) the charming Brazilian was very well-liked. He spent a year and a half at Toyota, a team who have spent a lot of money achieving very little, and it’s fair to assume a better team might have gotten more out of him.
His last F1 Grand Prix was the German race at Hockenheimin in 2004 (pictured above and below). He scored his best career result, sixth, at the same track a year earlier, and also at Spain in 2003 and Monaco in 2004. I was at Silverstone in 2003 when he led a Grand Prix for the one and only time in his career.
He looks set to put single-seater racing behind him and has tested a GrandAm car with a view to racing one at Laguna Seca in two months’ time. Good luck to him.