The Auto Channel
After Space, China Conquers Formula One.
Ho-Pin Tung Tests for BMW WilliamsF1 Team
Jerez, December 11, 2003. Hard on the heels of China¹s 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 season¹s 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 lifetime¹s
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 didn¹t 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 today¹s test
increases the interest in Formula One in China," he concluded.
Tung¹s 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 WilliamsF1¹s 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-Pin¹s 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-Pin¹s 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
Driving last year¹s WilliamsF1 BMW FW24, Ho-Pin Tung achieved his best lap
time on lap 33 of 42 (1min22.082sec).
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