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Silverstone young guns test Day 1: A little piece of history
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Jul 2012   |  7:03 pm GMT  |  31 comments

Today saw the first part of the two day Silverstone Young Guns test, which just three of the F1 teams are taking part in, rather than the traditional end of season Young Guns test at Abu Dhabi.

Williams, HRT and Marussia have stayed on after the British Grand Prix, to do the two day test, saving significant amount of money in comparison to the end of season event. In some ways it symbolises how divided the teams are on things like cost saving and testing, going forward, but it is nevertheless an F1 test and needs to be reported as such.

It’s no surprise to learn that Valtteri Bottas set the fastest time on a largely dry day’s running in the Williams. He completed 120 laps, more than two race distances. Bottas is Williams’ test and Friday driver and is backed by the increasingly influential Toto Wolff, a minority shareholder in the team.

He is being carefully prepared and has done well so far in his outings on Fridays at Grands Prix.

Meanwhile a little piece of history was made by the first Chinese driver to drive an F1 car in an official F1 test session.

Ma Qing Hua, 24, did 54 laps, a total of 318 kilometres and more than a race distance at Silverstone, at the wheel of the HRT. The team planned only one day’s running and has now packed up and gone back to Spain.

HRT team principal Luis Perez Sala said “It’s not easy to drive a Formula 1 car and he made no mistakes.

“We want to take things one step at a time with him and this test was for Ma to have his first real contact with a Formula 1 car at every level. He did a great job and now we have to continue working so that he can continue to progress in his journey towards Formula 1”.

Meanwhile the Shanghai born driver, who achieved something millions dream about but few achieve said, “”It was a fantastic feeling to drive a Formula 1 car for the first time.

“I’m very proud to represent China and be a pioneer for my nation in this sport. I’m confident that these tests and the ones that will come in the future will help motorsport to grow in China in the future and will grant more opportunities for everyone. This is only a first small step.”

Ma Qing Hua has competed in the Italian Formula 3000 series and the British Formula 3 Championship. He also had an outing for for A1 Team China at the China round in 2005. Last year he did a couple of races in the Chinese leg of the Superleague Formula Series.

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I have a question. I saw some pictures of the young drivers test and realized that they used the current year cars. If this is true why didn’t the leading teams participate in this test and try out some new parts? Is it not allowed ?


Yesterday, I saw 15 year old Matheo Tuscher, from Switzerland, come 2nd in the Formula 2 race at Brands. I wonder if he might be a candidate to become the youngest F1 driver some time in the not too distant future? He’s got 4 years to acheive it!


I think Williams want to be ready after the summer break if either Maldonado or Senna are not showing progress ie Maldonado not showing some discipline and Senna not improving in pace. It would be good for Bottas to get seven or 8 races under his belt to start next year if either current driver is not progressing. The FW 34 is a top 5 car it has already been proven by Pastor on more than 3 occasions.


I can understand of the needs of extra founding for the small teams. I would prefer that young driver tests employ young racers with known talent and experience in the series closer to F1. Of course talent can be found anywhere, maybe I am being snobbish. Still as I see it, talent should beat money.

What I also find at time difficult to grab is, How is talent not always connected to the money? I don’t know of him the least but, is Ma the best China has to offer? I hope so as what is the point otherwise.

Maybe I am just tired or not in the best of mood. HRT are probably doing what is best for them to keep at it (F1). Marc


Stop with the

Going forward

please James


Ho Pin Tung was the first Chinese driver to do an F1 test, back in the 90’s, though he is actually Chinese /Dutch. Currently racing under Chinese flag though.


Apparently not an official one.


Forget about Bottas for next year – surely Williams chose to run this test to evaluate Bottas for later this year?


I hope for Bottas’ sake it would be Bruno; Maldonado would have any usurper killed! 😛


Not a bad shout considering Maldonado’s probably going to end up getting himself banned/injured in the near future.


It would be nice if Ma can get a Friday drive at Shanghai next year.


Hey James,

What is your view on these young driver tests after di Villota’s accident? Do you think there should be some criteria? It look dangerous to me that people with some sponsors get to drive the cars without meaning any disrespect to her.



The financial situation is making teams very desperate. What we’ve seen is the two most desperate teams, in the space of a few weeks, put two incredibly inexperienced and ‘special interest’ drivers in the cars. Just look at the headlines: “Marussia announces female tester”; “First Chinese driver in F1 car”.

I’d prefer to see: “Promising and accredited young driver receives first deserved shot at F1 test”


I agree with you Jean, I cannot help but wonder if PR opportunities are outweighing the ability of these drivers.

I don’t think there has been an official announcement of the cause of De Villota’s crash and would not be surprised if it was caused by human error.


They’ll need to be quick to get a seat in the current field.



Two questions: How much is a “significant” amount of savings?


Did he really say those exact words, or did some PR flack write them and put them out?


Sorry, referring ofc to Ma Qing Hua.


He might claim himself as Chinese but he is Dutch. Chinese nationals aren’t allowed dual citizenship.


He’s Dutch-born to Chinese parents. It’s all semantics.

Ma is the first Chinese-born (I don’t think anyone would argue with Ho-Pin if he wanted to call himself Chinese – dual citizenship or not), let’s leave it at that.


So does having Spanish heritage make me Spanish? (I’m not.)

That’s not semantics, it’s a matter of citizenship and therefore identity.

Calling someone Chinese based on how they look or how there name sounds is plain wrong.

There is a Chinese element in his cultural background, however, Ho-Ping is Dutch, whether you like it or not.


HE at least someway toward being qualified for a super-licence.

Ma Qing Hua most certainly isn’t. Seem less than ideal given what happened at Duxford last week.


Yeah, he did test an F1 car. The only history made today is that Ma was the first chinese-born driver to drive an F1 car.


Bottas has looked impressive in what sessions he has done this season. James is Bottas and Senna on smilar programmes on Friday? Then it would be intresting to see what you think. Williams now just a top class driver and they be back at the sharp end once again but money i’m sure will dictate that.

Kind Regards



The FP1 sessions Bottas have taken part in has always been in Senna’s car which makes it not so easy to judge (from the outside). He has however outpaced Maldocrashdo at all but one of the sessions. All be it on different programs. Still VERY impressive.

I must admit that Senna’s not impressed me that much so far.


“Maldocrashdo” – gold!


Senna really has to pick it up fast otherwise Bottas will take his place i agree with you there.


Senna’a race pace has been very strong, He’s been quicker than Maldonado in the past few races.

Bruno’s only problem is qualifying, He can’t seem to get the tyres working over a single lap which see’s him starting further down the field.

When it comes to the races as I said already Bruno is very strong, Has been quicker than Maldonado & equally as important has been getting more performance for longer periods of time out his tyres.


Do you see Bottas getting a race seat next year, James? They’re spending rather a lot of time and resources with him.

Presumably Maldonado is safe (unless he takes half the field out at one of the races), so he’ll slot into Bruno’s seat.


You know, I hope that Senna improves his qualifying speed as his race pace is fine. He also doesn’t crash into people most of the time.


It will be interesting. Senna has performed well in the races and is not that far behind Pastor in the championship.

If you put Bottas in the team you may want to keep the guy who does bring the car home. A rookie and Maldonado is a risky duo.

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