Ma Qinghua has become the first Chinese-born driver to test in Formula One, completing 82 laps of the British Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone for HRT. The 24-year-old Ma was on the track on Thursday on the first of two days of a young-driver test on the site of Mark Webber’s F1 win on Sunday.
“It was a fantastic feeling to drive a Formula One car for the first time,” he said. “I’m very proud to represent China and be a pioneer for my nation in this sport.” Although Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung tested with Williams in 2003, he was born in the Netherlands, while Ma comes from Shanghai.
The Chinese touring car champion last year, Ma has previously competed in Formula Renault, A1 Grand Prix, Formula Three, and Superleague. HRT team principal Luis Perez Sala believes Ma has a bright future.
“It’s not easy to drive a Formula One car and he made no mistakes,” he said. “We want to take things one step at a time with him and this test was for Ma to have his first real contact with a Formula One car at every level.
“He did a great job and now we have to continue working so that he can continue to progress in his journey towards Formula One.”
Cheng Cong Fu made a few test for McLaren (including a stint at Goodwood.) “David” Zhu may have driven the BMW F1, back in his Formula BMW days.
Sun Zheng drove a Ferrari F1… But it was a simulator (at Ferrari’s factory.)
Therefore, Ma isn’t the first Chinese-born driver in F1. His career so far isn’t that spectacular: 2 F3 seasons in “national class”, 2 starts in Superleague, a single title (CTCC 2011, 1600 class.) Also, he has just been sacked by his touring car team, Beijing-Hyundai. That’s not exactly a promising youngster!
The only thing that could save him is his British manager, who seems to have lots of connection with Great-Britain and Spain.
Sun Zheng and Canadian-born Adderly Fong seems to get more support from the chinese federation. Also, they have a better ability to attract supporters.
But again, they didn’t show much behind the wheel.