Ma Qing Hua to drive for HRT in Monza practice

2012 Italian Grand Prix

Ma Qing Hua, HRT, Silverstone, 2012Ma Qing Hua will make his first appearance in an official F1 practice session for HRT at the Italian Grand Prix this weekend.

He will become the first Chinese driver ever to participate in an official F1 session when he takes over Narain Karthikeyan’s car during the first 90-minute session at Monza.

The 24-year-old from Shanghai previously drove the F112 for one day at Silverstone during the Young Drivers’ Test in July.

Ma said the opportunity was: “A very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver.”

“I?m very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza,” he added. “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 team mates, who have shared information and their experience, which will be very useful.

Ma Qing Hua, HRT, Silverstone, 2012“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.”

Team principal Luis Perez-Sala said the team’s development driver had met their expectations so far: “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.”

2012 Italian Grand Prix

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37 comments on Ma Qing Hua to drive for HRT in Monza practice

  1. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 5th September 2012, 9:15

    I can see Ma Qing Hua being drafted in for next year’s Chinese GP; if Karthikeyan is still at the team this would be a good move…

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th September 2012, 9:47

      I wouldn’t actually be surprised if Ma is being groomed for a seat in 2013. I think Chinese investment in a team is an inevitability, and with HRT being short on money and sponsors, I could see them racing under the Chinese banner next year, with Ma in one of their cars.

  2. Julian (@julian) said on 5th September 2012, 9:34

    The word pay driver is going to get thrown around quite a bit in this article.. and it’s a shame too, people don’t throw money behind a driver unless they actually feel the driver has something to offer. Good luck to him and I hope he continues to impress the team.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 5th September 2012, 9:52

      Let’s hope he just has a nice smooth session where he and the team can learn a lot. He’s right it is a big step, and exciting for China that the first guy is there to take part, and of course he pays them, but on the other hand it is also great to see someone get with the team only a few months ago and now have this opportunity, instead of having to wait for a year sitting with the team on the sidelines, only able to use the simulator (think of d’Ambrosio, he’s not had much if any running since last year).

      I wish Ma Qing Hua much success, and let’s hope he proves fast and good, would be great for everyone!

    • Yeah exactly, he can’t be much worse than Narain. :P

    • Mike (@mike) said on 6th September 2012, 3:13

      I think history has shown that they do often throw money behind less talented drivers.

  3. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 5th September 2012, 9:58

    Hope it goes well for him. I’m glad they’re putting him in instead of Karthikeyan. No doubt Ma Qing Hua brings money with him but at least HRT are remaining sensible and not replacing their best driver.

    I wonder if we will get tears again this time? ;)

    • Younger Hamii (@younger-hamii) said on 5th September 2012, 20:20

      That was just his first outing in an F1 car during a Young Drivers Test, imagine his emotions driving in a practice session at a historic, rapid circuit in Monza along with the best 23 of the best drivers in the world, sharing the same tarmac.

  4. thepostalserviceisbroke (@thepostalserviceisbroke) said on 5th September 2012, 10:09

    “Ma” is his last name.

  5. sumedh said on 5th September 2012, 10:41

    Why didn’t he drive during one of the practice sessions of the Chinese Grand Prix? Wouldn’t that have been worth more PR?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th September 2012, 10:51

      He didn’t have his superlicence at the time.

      The easiest way for a driver like Ma to get his superlicence is to complete three hundred kilometres of testing. However, this must be done at an FIA-sanctioned test, and HRT missed all of them. They had to wait until the first round of Young Driver Tests at Silverstone to give Ma some time with the car. Ma completed his three hundred kilometres on the first day, and HRT skipped the second day, suggesting that the entire point of going to the YDT was to get Ma his superlicence.

      They did, however, take advantage of the Chinese Grand Prix to announce that Ma had joined their driver programme. Which they appear to have created specifically to take Ma on-board.

    • Julian (@julian) said on 5th September 2012, 10:52

      Probably didn’t have a super license then. I don’t know for sure but it seems like a logical conclusion.

  6. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 5th September 2012, 11:05

    I hope he does well. I personally suspect he’s a better driver than Kathikeyan, and if he brings Chinese investment into the sport that can only be a good thing.

    His record isn’t great though. He won the Chinese Touring Car Championship in 2010, but his appearances in Spanish and British F3 have left much to be desired. Still, several drivers have proved over the years that success in lower formulae means very little in the big time, so I’m willing to keep an open mind.

    • Dan Brown (@danbrown180) said on 5th September 2012, 11:54

      In a HRT, unfortunately, we’ll never know.

      • Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 5th September 2012, 12:35

        That’s not quite true. De La Rosa is a good benchmark for him. He’s solid, dependable, and will help Ma learn the car. If he can get within a couple of seconds of De La Rosa he’ll have done a good job for this first time out.

    • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 6th September 2012, 2:20


      Are you serious? You suspect Ma is a better driver than Narain? Im no Narain fan-boy, but you cant honestly say that a kid who has had no discernible success in junior formulae is better than a driver with a solid experience as driver across many types of racing. Narain is not as bad as he is made out to be..he was went quite well back when he was at Jordan.

      I would hope for Ma to go well, and I will be surprised if he does.

      • Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 6th September 2012, 12:35

        I think it says quite a bit that Karthikeyan found himself in NASCAR pick-up trucks before being rescued by HRT, and his junior career didn’t exactly sparkle. He did OK in various formulae on the way to F1, but nothing to suggest he was the next big thing.

        I’m not saying that Ma is, of course, but if you were to choose between the two for next season, I would probably take a gamble on him. He’s young, he’s obviously done enough to convince the team he won’t bin it, and he can learn from the vastly experienced De La Rosa. Why wouldn’t you?

  7. jonathan102 (@jonathan102) said on 5th September 2012, 11:55

    Did he ever compete in high level open wheel series? like GP2/GP3?

  8. Enigma (@enigma) said on 5th September 2012, 12:41

    What will his FIA abbreviation be, since he’s only got 2 letters in his surname?

  9. TED BELL said on 5th September 2012, 14:48

    Take the worst team in F1 and dumb it down even more by having an unknown take up valuable practice time in nothing more than a PR stunt.

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