Mercedes sign 13-year-old Chinese kart racer Cui to junior team

2021 F1 Season

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Mercedes have signed Chinese kart racer Yuanpu Cui to their junior development programme, raising the possibility he may one day become the country’s first Formula 1 driver.

Cui, 13, is currently competing in the CIK-FIA European Championship, and has raced karts since he was six years old.

Cui’s best finish last season was second in the Andrea Margutti Trophy, in the OK Junior category, ahead of McLaren’s junior programme member Ugo Ugochukwu.

Mercedes driver development advisor Gwen Lagrue said “Yuanpu certainly caught our attention and has shown great promise during his karting career so far. He’s the top karting talent from China and there hasn’t been a Chinese F1 driver yet, so we’re looking forward to seeing how Yuanpu progresses and helping him move up the ranks.

Backed by the programme, Cui will continue racing in OK Junior categories this year.

The programme, which has seen Pascal Wehrlein, Esteban Ocon and George Russell all graduate to F1, currently has five members in karting and junior series.

Cui is the third Kart Republic factory driver to be signed by Mercedes into their junior programme, alongside Alex Powell and Andrea Kimi Antonelli. Frederik Vesti is also racing in Formula 3 and Paul Aron in Formula Regional European Championship as members of the world champions’ junior team.

Ma Qing Hua remains the only Chinese driver to have participated in a Formula 1 race weekend, during practice. China’s Guanyu Zhou, who is part of Alpine’s young driver programme, is leading the Formula 2 championship.

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Author information

Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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8 comments on “Mercedes sign 13-year-old Chinese kart racer Cui to junior team”

  1. I suppose that as more and more Chinese citizens have access to good cars their skills will improve enough to encourage them to look at car racing as a career.

    1. @danmar I am not sure how many 6 year olds you think have access to ‘good cars’

      1. This. However there are now a number of children comming of age whose parents are rich and Chineese. Some of them have the funding and talent to make it to F1.

      2. Well, if we’re talking about absolute values – I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more in China than in most individual EU countries.

      3. I was thinking “The Heck?”

    2. JMDan still thinks its 1989… mainland china does have quality cars.. maybe there are not many are not many mainland china drivers because they are not good enough and not 4d chess socioeconomic factors?
      Cheng Congfu was in the SAME McLaren Young Driver Programme as Lewis Hamilton…

      But Its clear looking at the huge market in china there will be a chinese F1 driver in the next few years(most likery Guanyu Zhou to alpine because he brings ccp state sponsored pay driver money to Renault) as a token flag waver driver as it is good for chinas “nation branding” score and Alpine will like the €150m income he brings.

  2. I mean, China has bought as many Mercedes cars as the whole of EU last year. Some of those people are bound to have kids :)

  3. Talking about him being potentially the first Chinese F1 driver already – no pressure for the lad then.

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