Italian GP: HRT’s Ma Qing Hua to make debut at Monza Friday practice session
By Berthold Bouman
Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua will make his début during the first free practice session for the Italian GP at Monza this weekend. The 24-year old driver will take over Narain Karthikeyan’s car during Friday morning practice, after following a HRT development program which included work on the simulator. Ma Qing Hua has already been in the HRT F112 during the Young Driver Test at Silverstone, and he feels he is ready for the next step.
“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 a Formula One car and help the team with whatever they need,” he said.
And he added, “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 One 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 team mates, who have shared information and their experience, which will be very useful.”
HRT Team Principal Luis Perez-Sala is impressed by the progress the Chinese driver recently has made, “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 One 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 début at a free practice session of a Grand Prix.”
Ma Qing Hua is the first Chinese-born driver to participate in a Grand Prix, as Chinese driver Ho Pin Tung, who also has had a chance in Formula One, was born in the Netherlands and not in China. Ma Qing Hua was born in Shanghai and has competed in several race series.
In 2005 he participated in the Italian Formula 3000 Series, and also drove for team China in the A1GP Series. He has also participated in the Spanish Formula Three Championship, the British Formula Three Championship, Superleague Formula and last year won the China Touring Car Championship driving for team Beijing Hyundai.
“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,” said a proud Ma Qing Hua.