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Ma aims to be China's first full-fledged F1 driver (3)


14:01, April 13, 2013

"He was calm, he was sensible, he was mature, and he didn't do what certain of the drivers had done in the past, which was trying to demonstrate he's a quick driver out there...He did exactly what he was told, and the main thing is he did not make mistakes, that beat somebody who has got experience behind them."

Webb saw potentials of Ma to become a "Real" F1 driver. "I think it's fair to say he has the potential to develop into a very exciting talent. He represent his country extremely well. He's dealing well with the pressure, which's distracting. What he has shown is that he can learn above all the distractions well and that he can develop. we cannot ask more for a young driver," he said.

The Caterham official, however, honestly admitted that the F1 team signed Ma partially for commercial benefit.

"I think having drivers manywhere when there's a mature market is a good thing," he said. "We also have Alexandre Rossi from Auburn of America, now hosting one of the most successful races that has been brought to the Formula One for a long time. It also need a hero figure. The American fans need a driver to pin their hopes on. In the same way the Chinese do. So we're lucky that we have relationship with somebody who got a lot of attention here in China."

Ma started racing at the tender age of eight and won the youth National Karting Championship when he was 12. He continued to race and achieved successful results in karting until 2004, when he entered the Asian Formula Renault Series and won the championship.

In 2006 Ma moved to Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, and claimed the title in the Chinese National Karting Championship (Super Group) one year later. In 2008 he drove in Formula 3 Spain and Formula 3 Spain Copa de Espana, finishing 7th in the Copa and managing two podiums.

In 2010 he represented Team China in two races in Superleague Formula before moving onto the Chinese Touring Car Championship in 2011 where he came away with the title after four wins and four podiums in the eight-race season.

Before Ma, Dutch-born Tung Ho-pin was the first ethnic Chinese to be included in a Formula One team's line-up when Renault (now Lotus) named him an official reserve in 2010. Tung was a test driver last season, but wasn't able to move beyond that stage.

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