PARIS, Sept 5, 2012 (AFP) - Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One when he lines up for the HRT team in Friday's
opening practice session for the Italian Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old Shanghai-born Ma got the call up from the Spanish team after completing 82 laps at Silverstone during a young drivers' session in
Ma, last year's Chinese Touring Car champion, had previously competed in Formula Renault, A1 Grand Prix, Formula Three and Superleague.
He replaces Indian Narain Karthikeyan for the session, HRT announced on their official website.
"This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver," said Ma.
"It will be my second time in the car...and I'm 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."
Reflecting on the wider significance of Friday's practice he added: "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."
He thanked those who had helped him to arrive at this point, including his parents and the Chinese Motorsport Federation.
HRT team boss Luis Perez-Sala commented: "Since we started working with him in March everything has been very quick but he's responded and overcome every phase accordingly.
"He's fulfilled our expectations without making any mistakes and has proven himself as a quick and safe driver with a great capability to adapt..."