Cristiano da Matta said he enjoyed the British Grand Prix after leading the action-packed race for a few laps and scoring more points for Toyota.

Cristiano da Matta said he enjoyed the British Grand Prix after leading the action-packed race for a few laps and scoring more points for Toyota.

Da Matta and team-mate Olivier Panis led the race after the second safety car came out following the track invasion. Da Matta finished in seventh place and Panis was 11th.

"I thoroughly enjoyed that race and I was quite happy with the way things went for us. Seventh place is a nice reward for our performance this weekend,” he said.

“We had a good strategy and good pit stops, using the first safety car period to come in for fuel, which put me in the lead at that time and Olivier second. I'm very used to leading races, but this was the first time in F1, which is a special feeling. I knew it wouldn't last long, so I enjoyed it while I could and pushed hard to build up as much time advantage as possible.

“We have been gradually improving over the past few races and we are setting ourselves up to be in a strong position for the rest of this season, but more importantly for 2004."

Team Principal Ove Andersson said he was pleased with the team’s performance to date. "It is a fantastic to finish seventh and to get another two points, taking our tally to seven. This result is important for our progression in the championship and encouragingly reflects where we are in terms of our competitiveness at the moment.

“We actually led the race for some 18 laps - almost one-third race distance - and it was incredible to see Toyota in first and second for a while early in the grand prix.

“Cristiano did a brilliant job throughout the race, as did Olivier, who kept third place for as long as Cristiano was leading. The team performed magnificently and made sure our pit stops were once again first class, which contributed as much to these two points as anything else."