HRTs Ma to make official F1™ debut in Monza practice 05 Sep 2012
HRTs Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese-born driver to take part in a Grand Prix weekend this Friday, when he takes over Narain Karthikeyans car for the opening practice session of the Formula 1 Gran Premio Santander d'Italia 2012 at Monza.
Since joining the team in April, Ma, 24, has been following a development programme specifically prepared for him by HRT, testing with lower category cars, working on the simulator and going through a rigorous physical training regime. The Shanghai-born driver completed 483.062 kilometres at the Silverstone young driver test in July and was granted a Formula One Super Licence by the FIA.
"This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula One driver, said Ma. It will be my second time in the car, after the young driver test in Silverstone, and Im 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.
Im excited but also calm about it because Ive been training hard in the past months to be prepared when the opportunity presented itself. Ive 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 Ive been with the team at Grands Prix Ive also learned a lot from the engineers and my team mates, 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 wont let them down.
Luis Perez-Sala, HRT team principal, commented: "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. Since we started working with him in March everything has been very quick but hes 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 kilometres with no problems.
Hes shown to us that hes 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. Hes 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 attitude. Without a doubt, this is a very important step which comes with great responsibility, but we consider that hes prepared to take it on.
Ma has previously competed in international championships such as Formula Renault, A1 Grand Prix, Formula Three and Superleague, and last year won the 2011 Chinese touring car title.
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