Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese driver to take part in an F1 race weekend this Friday at Monza.
The 24-year-old from Shanghai will replace Narain Karthikeyan at HRT during the first free practice session for this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
Ma took part in the Young Driver test at Silverstone with the team earlier this year and, after completing over 483 km in the F112, he has been granted an F1 Super Licence by the FIA.
“This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver,” said Ma. “It will be my second time in the car, after the Young Driver Test in Silverstone, and I’m very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza. The objective of this session is to continue advancing with my programme, rack up more miles and experience at the wheel of an F1 car and help the team with whatever they need.
“I’m excited but also calm about it because I’ve been training hard in the past months to be prepared when the opportunity presented itself. I’ve also worked on the simulator to get to know the circuits a bit better and how a Formula 1 car reacts. In the last months I’ve been with the team at grands prix I’ve also learned a lot from the engineers and my teammates, who have shared information and their experience, which will be very useful.
“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. I want to thank all the people who have supported and helped me to get here. From my parents and China Sport Management to the Chinese Motorsport Federation, the companies that have supported and support me, and of course HRT Formula 1 Team for giving me this opportunity. I won’t let them down”.
HRT team principal Luis Pérez-Sala said that he was delighted to be giving Ma the opportunity this weekend.
“Personally, it fills me with satisfaction to be able to give Ma the opportunity to make his debut at a Grand Prix, and to do it in FP1 at a classic circuit like Monza makes it even more special,” explained the Spaniard. “Since we started working with him in March everything has been very quick but he’s responded and overcome every phase accordingly.
“From tests with World Series or GP2 cars, passing through sessions on the simulator, to the Formula 1 tests in Silverstone where he completed 500 km with no problems. He’s shown to us that he’s on a good level and has transmitted the necessary confidence to take the next step, which is to make his debut at a free practice session of a Grand Prix. He’s fulfilled our expectations without making any mistakes and has proven himself as a quick and safe driver with a great capability to adapt, besides also possessing a very positive and professional attit ude. Without a doubt, this is a very important step which comes with great responsibility, but we consider that he’s prepared to take it on”.