Motor Sports

Formula One: China's Ma makes Formula One history

Red Bull Racing's German driver Sebastian Vettel and Lotus F1 Team's Finnish driver Kimi Raikkonen drives at the Silverstone circuit on July 8, 2012 during the British Formula One Grand Prix. (AFP PHOTO / ANDREW YATES)

LONDON: Ma Qing Hua made motorpsort history Thursday by becoming the first Chinese-born driver to test drive for a Formula One team.

Ma completed 82 laps in total of the Silverstone circuit in central England, scene of last weekend's British Grand Prix, for the HRT team during a young drivers' test with a best time of 1 minute 37.829 seconds.

Although Ho-Pin Tung tested with Williams in 2003, he was born in Holland, unlike 24-year-old Ma who hails from Shanghai.

Ma, last year's Chinese Touring Car champion, had previously competed in Formula Renault, A1 Grand Prix, Formula Three and Superleague.

"It was a fantastic feeling to drive a Formula One car for the first time," Ma said.

"It's not easy to put into words what I felt. Yesterday (Wednesday) I found it hard to sleep and I tried to calm down by thinking that it was just another test. But I'm very proud to represent China and be a pioneer for my nation in this sport.

"I'm confident these tests, and the ones that will come in the future, will help motorsport grow in China and will grant more opportunities for everyone."

Luis Perez Sala, principal of Spain-based HRT, said: "It's not easy to drive a Formula One car and he made no mistakes.

"We want to take things one step at a time with him and this test was for Ma to have his first real contact with a Formula One car at every level.

"He did a great job and now we have to continue working so that he can continue to progress in his journey towards Formula One."





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