Chinese racing sensation Tung Ho-Pin (21) is finalising his preparations before his momentous test date with the BMW.Williams F1 team, when he will become the first ethnic Chinese racer to driver a modern F1 car. His timing could not be more ...
Chinese racing sensation Tung Ho-Pin (21) is finalising his preparations before his momentous test date with the BMW.Williams F1 team, when he will become the first ethnic Chinese racer to driver a modern F1 car. His timing could not be more perfect, with the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix set to take place in Shanghai in September 2004, opening up the world's most populous nation to one of the most popular sports in the world.
Tung was awarded this exclusive opportunity after dominating the 2003 Formula BMW Asia Championship with Team Meritus, taking 10 wins out of 14 races at circuits throughout Asia. The Formula BMW series was designed by BMW Motorsports to help find unique talent at an early stage, so that it can be nurtured into a potential F1 champion.
"We do not give an F1 test to just anyone who wins a Formula BMW championship. We have been watching Tung all season, and with ten wins in the series this year, we recognise his potential," said Guido Stalmann, General Manager of Sponsorship and Business Relations at BMW Motorsport.
In the lead-up to the 11th December test at Jerez de le Frontera circuit in Spain, Tung has been working very hard on his fitness in preparation for the extreme forces that come with driving an F1 car. "I have been training even harder during the last couple of weeks since I found out I would get the opportunity to drive the BMW.Williams F1 car. In the short time available I think I have done the maximum. It will be very tough and hope my training was sufficient!" said Tung.
"I have put a lot of preparation into this test, because it is my chance to prove myself in the most advanced racing cars in the world. I hope my test with BMW.Williams F1 will give Chinese motor racing a big boost and will make it even more popular among the Chinese people," said Tung the weekend before the test. "I have worked very hard to earn this opportunity, but I must also thank others who have helped to make this possible, notably my manager Bert, my team Meritus, my sponsors, and of course BMW Motorsport and Williams," Tung added.
Tung has also tested with a Superfund Euro F3000 car at Vallelunga (Italy) last week. He had to make the transition from 140bhp of his Formula BMW to the 500bhp of the F3000 car and was very impressed.
"It has given me a very good idea of how difficult the F1 car will be. The car is very heavy to drive and the power and downforce of this F3000 car are already amazing! The track in Vallelunga has a couple of really fast corners; the first corner after the straight was flat-out in 5th gear at topspeed. I've never done a corner that fast in my life, over 250 km/h!" said an ecstatic Tung after the test.
Tung won the F-BMW Asia championship with Team Meritus, which has a history of helping Asian racers maximise their potential; Meritus previously helped Indian racer Narain Karthikeyan on his way to JordanGP and Jaguar F1 tests, and more recently Takuma Sato to JordanGP and BAR Honda as a racer.
"After visiting the BMW.Williams F1 factory in Grove I can say that there are of course a lot of differences with my Meritus team, but also a lot of similarities. Both are aiming to obtain the highest quality standards for their cars and team. Meritus has really helped me prepare for the highest level of racing [F1] with their professionalism," said Tung after his visit to the Williams Headquarters for seat, pedals and steering wheel fitting.
There will be a lot of pressure on Tung to be at his peak during the relatively short testing period, but he has proven time and again in F-BMW Asia that he has the ability to pull everything together when it matters most.