Wednesday, September 05, 2012
Qing Hua to make F1 first for China at Monza
MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese driver to take part in a Formula One grand prix weekend when he replaces Indian Narain Karthikeyan at the wheel of an HRT in free practice at Monza on Friday.
HRT said on Wednesday the Shanghai-born 24-year-old will take part in the morning session at the Italian GP, the final European round of the season, and then hand the car back to Karthikeyan who will race on Sunday.
Qing Hua earned his mandatory FIA super licence after completing 483.062 km in a young driver test at Silverstone in July. He has also spent time in a simulator and accompanied the team to races.
"This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula One driver," he said in a team statement.
"It will be my second time in the car...and I'm very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza.
"It will be the first time that a Chinese driver takes part in a Grand Prix and that, for Chinese motorsport, is another huge stride and a fantastic opportunity."
Qing Hua joined the Spanish-based team, who have never scored a point and are usually at the back of the grid, in April as a member of their young driver development programme.
China has hosted a grand prix in Shanghai since 2004 but, with motor racing in its infancy in the country, has yet to find a home-grown talent good enough to race in Formula One.
Dutch-born Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung tested with former champions Williams in 2003 and was a Renault reserve in 2010 but did not take part in a grand prix weekend.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Martyn Herman)