F1 first for China at Monza
TESTING, TESTING: Ma Qing Hua at a Silverstone young driver test - now he's on the track for real.
Author: Alan Baldwin
MONZA, Italy - Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese to drive in a Formula 1 GP weekend when he replaces Indian Narain Karthikeyan at the wheel of an HRT in free practice at Monza on Friday.
HRT said the Shanghai-born 24-year-old would take part in the morning practice session ahead of the Italian GP, the final European round of the season, then hand the car back to Karthikeyan who will race on Sunday.
Qing Hua earned his super licence after completing 483km in a young driver test at Silverstone in July 2012. He's also spent time in a simulator and accompanied the team to races.
"This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming an F1 driver," he said in a team statement. "It will be my second time in the car... and I'm very excited about driving at Monza. It is another huge stride for Chinese motorsport and a fantastic opportunity."
Qing Hua joined the Spanish-based team, which has not scored a point and whose cars are usually at the back of the grid, in April 2012 as a member of their young driver development programme.
China hosted a GP in Shanghai since 2004 but, with motor racing in its infancy in the country, has yet to find a home-grown F1 talent. Netherlands-born Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung tested with Williams in 2003 and was a Renault reserve in 2010 but did not take part in a GP weekend.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2012 Italian F1 GP weekend.