Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

McLaren run for Chinese star 08 Sep 2004

Cheng Congfu (CHN) tests a McLaren Mercedes MP4/17D. McLaren Test, Brno, Czech Republic, 6 September 2004. World © West Copyright Free

Cheng Congfu made history on Tuesday by becoming the first driver born in mainland China to drive a Formula One car when he took part in a demonstration run with McLaren in the Czech Republic.

Cheng, currently competing in the British Formula Renault series, completed five laps of the Brno circuit at the wheel of the MP4-17D as part of the event, which was held in the weeks building up to the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai later this month.

"It was the most exciting moment of my life as I pulled out of the garage in the West McLaren Mercedes car today," commented Cheng after his drive. "It has been an ambition of mine for as long as I can remember to get behind the wheel of a Formula One car and I wasn’t disappointed in any way.

“It is such a massive step up from the Formula Renault that I usually drive, with two of the main differences being the power behind you that is just immense and the grip through the corners, which is incredible, it really lets you drive at the limits. It was an amazing experience for me and I am very proud to have had the opportunity."

Among those present to witness Chinese driver’s McLaren debut was team regular David Coulthard. “It is a great opportunity for Cheng to have driven the MP4-17D today in Brno," he commented. "To have this chance so early in one’s career to drive the car that is your ultimate aim is fantastic and can only act as motivation to continue to work hard on developing as a driver.

“From his reaction when he got out of the car, he clearly enjoyed it and we are now looking forward to taking the sport to the Chinese public in a couple of week’s time."

The 2004 Chinese Grand Prix takes place from September 24 to 26.