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The first Chinese driver compete in F1

By Ni Yinbin (Shanghai Daily)

13:19, September 06, 2012

China’s Ma Qinghua is able to break through and become the first Chinese driver to ever take part in F1.(

Shanghai-born driver Ma Qinghua will become the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One when he lines up for the HRT team in tomorrow's opening practise session for the Italian Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old will replace India's Narain Karthikeyan at the famous Monza circuit.

"This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula One driver. It will be my second time in the car after the Young Driver Test in Silverstone, and I'm very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza," Ma said.

"The objective of this session is to continue advancing with my program, rack up more miles and experience at the wheel of a F1 car and help the team with whatever they need."

Since joining the team and following the training program that HRT prepared for him, Ma has been preparing himself in recent months for challenges in F1 races by testing with lower category cars, working on the simulator and going through rigorous physical training.

Ma impressed HRT after completing 483km at the young driver test at Silverstone in July that won him the F1 Super License from the FIA.

The team is ready to take the next step and will line him up alongside Pedro de la Rosa during the free practise at the Monza.

"I'm excited but also calm about it because I've been training hard in the past months ... I've also worked on the simulator to get to know the circuits a bit better and how a Formula 1 car reacts," Ma added.

"In the last months I've been with the team at grands prix I've also learnt a lot from the engineers and my teammates, who have shared information and their experience, which will be very useful."

Meanwhile, Belgian driver Jerome d'Ambrosio will drive in place of the suspended Romain Grosjean for the Lotus team in Italy.

D'Ambrosio is Lotus's reserve driver and gets his chance after Grosjean was penalized for his reckless start in last Sunday's Belgian race which provoked an accident that saw Lewis Hamilton and series leader Fernando Alonso's races end at the first corner.

D'Ambrosio, 26, had one season in Formula One as a first choice driver with the minnows Virgin (Marussia) in 2011 in which he failed to register a point. Grosjean has had a largely successful season, recording three podium finishes in 12 races and stands eighth in the drivers championship on 76 points.

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