Hard on the heels of China's first manned spaceflight by Yang Liwei in October this year, another technological landmark was broken today when Ho-Pin Tung, together with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, became the first ever Chinese driver to test a...
Hard on the heels of China's first manned spaceflight by Yang Liwei in October this year, another technological landmark was broken today when Ho-Pin Tung, together with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team, became the first ever Chinese driver to test a Formula One car.
The 21 year old from Wenzhou, 500km south of Shanghai, earned the coveted opportunity to test for the team after winning this season's Formula BMW Asia series in dominant style. Today as his reward, he took to the wheel of a WilliamsF1 BMW FW24 for 42 laps of the 4.428km Jerez de la Frontera circuit, south west of Seville in Spain.
"After driving a 140bhp Formula BMW car last season, stepping into a 900bhp Formula One car was terrifying as well as the fulfilment of a lifetime's ambition in equal measure. It is of course a matter of some pride to also be the first Chinese driver to get behind the wheel of such a prestigious Formula One Car," said Tung at the end of the test session.
Recounting his experience the young driver reported that,"The atmosphere was very calm and the team helped ensure I didn't get too nervous. Juan Pablo Montoya and Marc Gené were great and helped answer all the questions I had before getting in the car. I was stunned by the performance of the car, it was like a drug, and I was also quite surprised that I had no physical problems by the end of the session."
"Afterwards I sat with the engineers to analyse the data which showed me the difference between my performance and that of Juan and Marc. Fortunately though, I discovered that we also have a few things in common, which made me happy. Prior to today, Formula One was a dream, now it has become a goal, and I sincerely hope that today's test increases the interest in Formula One in China," he concluded.
Tung's performance was assessed by BMM Motorsport Director, Mario Theissen. "We have been keeping our eyes on Ho-Pin for some time now, and his twelve pole positions and ten wins from 14 starts this year promises much. I am glad to say he handled his first Formula One test in a very mature fashion. His approach and his improvements over the course of the day did prove he has serious potential as a racing driver."
Tung was also praised by WilliamsF1's Chief Operations Engineer, Sam Michael. "Ho-Pin assisted with our general test programme today, driving the FW24. He worked well with the engineering team and demonstrated a good degree of competence and ability over the course of the day. His lap time was very respectable for someone who hadn't driven anything like a Formula One car before today."
Ho-Pin's test with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team has taken on additional significance ahead of the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on September 26, 2004. Reflecting on the significance of Ho-Pin's maiden Formula One test, BMW WilliamsF1 Team Principal Frank Williams said, "The prospect of Formula One awakening the interests of a substantial element of the Chinese TV population is something that I personally find very stimulating."
"It is fortunate indeed that, just prior to the inaugural Shanghai Grand Prix in 2004, Ho-Pin Tung has made history as the first Chinese race driver ever to test a Formula One car. I believe his engagement with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team in Jerez will only serve to stimulate valuable interest in Formula One in one of the few remaining virgin territories for the sport."
Driving last year's WilliamsF1 BMW FW24, Ho-Pin Tung achieved his best lap time on lap 33 of 42 (1min22.082sec).