Ma Qing Hua joins HRT’s driver development programme

2012 F1 season

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Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua has been recruited to HRT’s driver development programme.

The 24-year-old won the 1600cc category of the China Touring Car Championship last year. He previously raced in Superleague Formula, Formula Three in Spain and Britain, and A1 Grand Prix.

The team aim to run the driver in the young drivers’ test at the end of the year. He said: “I started in the karting world when I was eight years old and I worked really hard to learn and become quicker every time.

“After competing in categories such as Formula Campus, Formula Renault and F3, I learned a lot about car set-up, technique on circuits and team work to become more professional every time.

“And now finally my childhood dream has become true thanks to the opportunity that HRT has granted me to become an F1 driver. And even more so this year with all the drivers who are competing, with six world champions amongst them.

“Driving an F1 car will be the most incredible experience and I’m going to work hard to earn it. Thanks to HRT for offering me the chance to show what I’m capable of. And thanks to my family and everyone who has always supported me.”

Team principal Luis Perez-Sala said: “We are working so that one of the team’s signs of identity is to serve as a platform to launch young drivers, both nationally and internationally.

“Ma Qing Hua is one those talents in which we believe and we want to help him in his career so that he can make it to Formula 1.

“We like his conditions and we want to take part in his formation by incorporating him to the team’s Driver Development Programme so that he can participate in races and private tests, with the objective of him being able to take part in the Formula 1 tests reserved to young drivers.

“Due to my responsibility in the Circuit de Catalunya young driver programme, I’ve been able to follow his progress and personally assisted some tests he did. I knew he had potential, but I was surprised with his speed, safety, adaptation capacity, attitude and professionalism.

“All these virtues make us believe that his incorporation to the programme will be very positive and will lead to a fruitful and lasting relationship”.

He will make his first public appearance for the team at a press conference next on Thursday ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “Ma Qing Hua joins HRT’s driver development programme”

  1. That’s a lot of auto-translated text in one article.

    1. I can’t speak for HRT’s PR department but I haven’t auto-translated anything.

      1. Usually they write it in spanish first and then they translate it. But I guess they have someone that also speaks english fluently anyway!

  2. Remember him in Superleague Formula in 2010. Way, way, way off F1 level.

    1. @jholland – He made one appearance in a team that was only ever entered in the two Chinese rounds of the 2010 season (and the second race was a joke). It’s very difficult to judge him, because most of his career has been made up of guest-spots at the national level of competition. We probably won’t know what kind of level he is at for certain until he takes part in the young driver sessions. Assuming he does.

  3. Huh. The cynic in me says mr. Perez-Sala has cottoned on to a quick couple of billion fans and potential money behind them.

    But then, he might actually be fast as well. And there’s always space in F1 for more people like Sauber getting exciting new talent into F1 :)

    1. The cynic in me says mr. Perez-Sala has cottoned on to a quick couple of billion fans and potential money behind them.

      Further Chinese involvement in the sport is inevitable. Whether through a driver or team ownership, China will have a presence in the sport. Who can fault HRT for recognising that?

      1. It’s just like the whole female driver thing, only now with ethnicity. By putting a subpar driver from a certain group of people, whose only qualification is that they belong to that certain group, into their car, they damage the credibility of that group.

        1. So because a driver is in a development programme, he is in that development programme because of his nationality? Like I said above, it is very difficult to judge Ma’s ability, because he has only done a limited amount of running in a variety of categories. Ma is by no means guaranteed a drive in he HRT – he has to live up to a certain standard first. And even then, he will only get to run at the young driver tests.

          1. It seems that his nationality played a much more important role than it usually would, yes.

          2. I don’t think we can say that with any certainty. It could be that HRT have been looking at him for a while, but held off announcing him until the Chinese Grand Prix, when they could be sure to get maximum coverage.

          3. I like how you took the part of my post that by itself you disagreed with and selectively ignored the part where I specifically amended that statement with a qualifier that makes the message exactly the same as what you replied with.

            It’s ok to just not post, every now and again you know. We know you follow any and all motorsports religiously; please stop bashing overyone over the head with it.

        2. He may be terrible, but it’ll raise interest for F1 in China. Maybe that means more seats taken up in stands, better circuits are built and even some good drivers filtering through in the future. It’s great for HRT too, and they are only doing what they need to in order to stay in the sport. Blame the sport for what they are doing, and congratulate HRT for getting ever more involved and ever more experienced in the world of F1. I fully expect the 2014 championship now to be between Caterham, Force India, HRT and Stefan GP.

          1. so Force India are taking steps backwards?

      2. Of course, it remains to be seen whether he actually is subpar, but this is what the cynic in me says :)

      3. Chinese owners would be equivalent of an IMF bail-out for HRT in times of scarce funds for gigantic needs. (car development, working capital, personnel)

        1. Indeed, if they manage to pull that one off, I think it would be a big turnaround for them. And Bernie would love it too.

  4. HRT’s new money development program.

    1. Ka ching!!! Poor kid, he must be out of option.

    2. absolutely………but who can blame them, really? and who knows, maybe he will even pleasantly surprise some people….. i reckon Perez wasn´t all that great in most his pre-formula 1 series either, yet see seem to have adapted extremely well to F1….
      On another note….is it only me or does he really look like the perfect mix of Perez and Kobayashi…lol :D

  5. Congrats to Mr Qinghua :)

  6. And they are going to… what? Make him a champion with HRT?

    1. I’m guessing that they’re trying to raise awareness of Chinese drivers in China, and maybe attract a bit of funding if Ma does drive in the young driver tests.

      1. Probably that is exactly what it is. A good move from HRT, I guess.

        By the way, this is the first time I hear that HRT actually has something called a driver development program.

  7. The ‘Ma’ in Qinghua Ma can be a ? in Chinese, and that pretty much sums it up.

  8. Isnt HRT supposedly rebranding itself as a “Spainish” team?

    Unless Mr Ma has a joint passport…?

    1. Paella- Special Fried Rice…close enough

  9. I think its fair to say there are better driver development programmes than HRT ;)

  10. The 1600cc category of the China Touring Car Championship, that well known stepping stone to Formula One.

  11. I wonder what that means if he ever gets to F1 (maybe Dani Clos is a better example, as he’s much closer to F1). For example, Perez and Bianchi at Ferrari, Korjus and Stanaway at Lotus, RBR young drivers – they all have contracts that allow the team to keep them from running away to another team. It makes sense – a team helps the driver throughout the lower categories, and they get to keep him if he’s as good as the best in F1.

    What does that mean for Clos and Ma? If they get to F1 with HRT, are they allowed to move to a bigger team?

    1. What does that mean for Clos and Ma? If they get to F1 with HRT, are they allowed to move to a bigger team?

      No doubt. A contract forcing a driver to stay with a team would be anti-competitive. A team is permitted to lay first claim to a driver through a young driver program – they do, after all, spend a lot of money supporting those drivers – but if a driver signed a contract that said “you can only ever drive for us”, then he would have a case to take to the Contract Review Board. Every driver has the right to make whatever move they feel is the best decision for them.

      1. So HRT can support Ma all the way to F1 and he can just move to another team? Not quite sure but if that’s the case, it’s unfair on HRT…

        1. @enigma – The way it works is that, in exchange for support in getting to Formula 1, a driver agrees that they will race for the team that supported them before they race for anyone else. It works just like any other driver development programme. Just look at Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton – there was a time when Ferrari would have snapped them both up in an instant. But because they were already working with Red Bull and McLaren, Ferrari couldn’t touch them. It’s not different for HRT and Ma.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys Right – thanks for clearing that up.

    2. If Ma gets an F1 seat and then does enough to get an offer from an improved team I will eat my proverbial hat.

  12. Next, HRT offers seats to folks who have passed the B License test in Gran Turismo.

    1. If only… [/unrealistic_fantasy]

      1. Having said that, I’m happy for Ma – he seems to be a pretty genuine guy who’s happy for this chance.

    2. ROFLOL!!!!

  13. As cynical as you can be about HRT… You gotta feel good for him, he sounds honored to be in F1. And I like that attitude.

    1. who wouldnt be? what other attitude would you expect?

      1. Hamilton’s? ;D

        1. It took 20 posts to get Hamilton in the conversation. Nice effort :D

        2. Hamilton’s attitude was the same when he started testing in F1 and when he started racing in his first year. Listen to some of the interviews from 2006 and 2007 and then we can resume this discussion.

  14. Anyway congrats to Ma. Many guys and I have been paying attention to his motorsport career for a long time, and we also hang out to have fun at the karting track run by his father. Happy to see him rekindle China’s F1 hopes through this presence. – From a Chinese fan in Shanghai:D

    1. nice @mjhu, must be great to see a guy you know a bit get into F1.

      I guess HRT must be hoping that they can get some Chinese engineering prowess and money to support growing the team, good job for them if they manage that!

      1. “Chinese engineering prowess”

        wow thats a strange term right there.

        you mean the ability to copy other people’s ideas?

        1. It’s a stepping stone. Look at Korea now, they are copying no one any more in electronics. China have a full blown R&D capacity and it would be dum to ignore it because of Pride. Believe me, in France, we now what misplaced national pride is. And they also have cash.

        2. vijanik, sure China does a lot of copying, but isn’t copying things and making them even better in the process one the fastest way forward for a back of grid team?
          Although you might be surprised to see what China is bringing in the coming years for real innovation.

          1. China has a lot of cash, and is among the last regions of economic growth. Thats why all the major western corporations base their long term startling on Chinese consumers and markets. By exploiting low wages and a massive consumer base, international corporations would be foolish not to invest there. I am not detracting anything from China and the influence it has (and will have) on our future.

            My point is that given all those things, you would be hard pressed to find “innovation” in China. We might see that in the future, but certainly not now. And “engineering prowess”? Thats not a word you hear associated with China. Companies go there to cut costs, not for engineering prowess. Otherwise they would go to Japan, or Germany (unfortunately thats pretty expensive and doesnt bring value per share up every quarter)

            Dont get me wrong, a Chinese team would be great fpor the sport, and is innevetable in my oppinion. But i was just surprised by the reasoning BasCB gave thats all.

  15. Matt (@agentmulder)
    5th April 2012, 14:53

    Congrats to him, but like Ral said I’m afraid this is just HRT trying to exploit a market through driver nationality. If the kid turns out to be quick, then more power to them, but this will probably go nowhere.

    Then again, having a Chinese in F1 might be the push that country needs to get behind the sport. We’ll have to wait and see.

  16. What a pretentious team. Try and make every grand prix before you try and emulater Ferrari or Red Bull. The poor guy probably has no idea what he’s getting into. Good Luck mate!

    1. I imagine he has more idea than you.

      1. I heard imagination is your weak point. Seems to be corroborated with this remark.

    2. Try and make every grand prix before you try and emulater Ferrari or Red Bull

      They’ve managed to make it to every race for the past two years, and there is no evidence that they will no be able to complete the 2012 season.

      1. When they can start every race like they are supposed to, then get back to me.

        1. how are they trying to ’emulater’ Ferrari & Red Bull? as is in signing a Chinese driver? initiating a driver development program? competing in Formula 1?

          1. With the driver development program. They can’t even race in every event for the past two years and yet they have a driver development program. I think they should concentrate on making the grid in Australia next year before worrying about driver development. After all, there is no need to develop a driver if he isn’t racing.

  17. Let’s give the guy a chance. We don’t really know that much about him, as he’s only made cameo appearances in recognised series, so let’s assume he must have some talent.

    Face it, people would only back him if they felt he could make a return on their investment, so even if he is a pay driver, which is extremely likely, he should be all right. Probably not champion material, though.

  18. FlyingLobster27
    5th April 2012, 16:24

    Does anyone else remember another Chinese hopeful from a few years ago?
    I guess he’s still Ho-Pin Tung get there!

    (ba dum tsss)

    1. Awesome.

  19. I’ve just had a thought, I’ve got a full driving licence, surely I can’t be that far away from a place in HRT’s driver development programme ;)

  20. What convenient timing. Just a week before the CHINESE Grand Prix…

    1. @david-a Exactly. Good idea, yes?

      Makes good sense to me. Why would they make a secret of it?

      1. @andrew-tanner – I’m aware that they wouldn’t make a secret of it. And I guess HRT do need some attention brought to their brand. Ma will have an uphill struggle to prove himself though.

    2. @david-a

      What convenient timing. Just a week before the CHINESE Grand Prix…

      Why wouldn’t you wait until the week before the Chinese Grand Prix? If a team like Red Bull was picking up a Chinese driver for their development programme and announced it a week before the Chinese Grand Prix, you wouldn’t give it a second thought.

  21. $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

    ^ I think that say’s it all!

  22. Good news for the guy and good news for the team. This seems like it will have mutual benefit and why not.

  23. Hope that is a good news for both Ma and HRT. It’s nice to see my people joining the #1 motorsport. And hope the interest (and maybe fund) from China can help HRT catch up a bit on the grid.

  24. I have to laugh at some of the reactions in this thread. Driver development programs are nothing new, but because HRT are launching one and because the first driver they ave chosen is Chinese, it’s “obviously” all about the money or the public relations (or both).

    1. @prisoner-monkeys

      People (including myself) have jumped to those assumptions because HRT have shown time and time again that they desperately need money. Trying to compete on a shoestring budget is nothing to be ashamed of. I even applaud them for trying and hope they survive as well as improve.

      Ma could turn out to be a superb driver and/or the HRT driver program a huge success. But Ma’s career highlight in single seaters so far is to finish 10th in British Formula 3. I’m not convinced that this isn’t at least partially for financial reasons. Again, it’s nothing against HRT, as it is a sensible move and should benefit both parties, it’s just what I as an F1 fan think.

      1. Well,Mr P.Monkeys?? Do you have anything to say to that??

        1. … Why do I have to respond to it?

          I never said all of the responses made me laugh – just some of them.

    2. F1 is, for the most part, all about money and PR.

  25. breaking news: HRT have just signed their first main sponsor on a multi-million euro deal. The deal with ‘Len Huot 2 dollar shop’ was formalised today. It was announced that they would also be a technology partner..

    It is also rumoured that HRT are in advanced discussion with Chinese fashion giant Louis Vuittong

  26. Poor Ho Pin Tung, he never get a chance into real racing, showing up in circus performance only.

  27. It’s just lines like this that wind me up:

    ““Ma Qing Hua is one those talents in which we believe and we want to help him in his career so that he can make it to Formula 1.”

    I understand that F1 teams need to sign pay drivers. I understand that they need to be nice about them in their press releases. But when you say a guy who has never achieved anything of note “is one those talents in which we believe” you just come off as full of rubbish. There are limits to how much you can lie in a press release without coming off as stupid. I’ve got nothing against Ma, but I’m sure he’s way off F1 level.

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