Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua is to join the HRT young driver development programme, the team have announced.
The 25-year-old from Shanghai will undergo a progressional assessment, private tests with cars from different categories, and simulator tests.
If the team thinks that he has got what it takes to be a future F1 driver, Qing Hua could be in the wheel of an F1 car at the Young Driver test.
Qing Hua joins HRT test driver Dani Clos on the programme, which the Spanish team say is part of there strategy ‘to serve as a platform for the formation of professionals in the pinnacle of world motorsport’.
“I'm very honoured to form a part of the driver development programme at HRT Formula 1 Team since, with work and effort, it will allow me to become the first Chinese Formula 1 driver,” said Ma Qing Hua. “It's a very special moment for me and it's hard to express how happy I am.
“I've dreamt of becoming a Formula 1 driver since I was very small. I started in the karting world when I was 8 years old and I worked really hard to learn and become quicker every time.
“After competing in categories such as Formula campus, Formula Renault and F3, I learned a lot about car set-up, technique on circuits and team work to become more professional every time. And now finally my childhood dream has become true thanks to the opportunity that HRT has granted me to become an F1 driver. And even more so this year with all the drivers who are competing, with 6 world champions amongst them.
“Driving an F1 car will be the most incredible experience and I'm going to work hard to earn it. Thanks to HRT for offering me the chance to show what I'm capable of.
“And thanks to my family and everyone who has always supported me. This is only the beginning”.
HRT Team Principal Luis PÃ©rez-Sala explained why they had recruited Qing Hua to the young driver programme: “We are working so that one of the team's signs of identity is to serve as a platform to launch young drivers, both nationally and internationally,” he said. “Ma Qing Hua is one those talents in which we believe and we want to help him in his career so that he can make it to Formula 1.
“We like his conditions and we want to take part in his formation by incorporating him to the team's Driver Development Programme so that he can participate in races and private tests, with the objective of him being able to take part in the Formula 1 tests reserved to young drivers.
“Due to my responsibility in the Circuit de Catalunya young driver programme, I've been able to follow his progress and personally assisted some tests he did. I knew he had potential, but I was surprised with his speed, safety, adaptation capacity, attitude and professionalism.
“All these virtues make us believe that his incorporation to the programme will be very positive and will lead to a fruitful and lasting relationship”.