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The Chinese media is reporting that Ma Qing Hua has signed for HRT in 2013, thereby becoming the first Chinese driver to contest the Formula One World Championship.
Chinadaily.com reports that Ma Qing Hua will represent the Spanish team in 2013 and that the news was "announced at a press conference in Shanghai on Tuesday afternoon".
However, though the HRT website refers to the press conference, at which Chinese authorities were present to honour the Chinese driver, nothing is mentioned in terms of plans for 2013.
Ma made his F1 weekend debut at Monza, when he took part in Friday practice, the youngster making further appearances in Korean and Abu Dhabi.
Speaking at today's event, Ma said: "It's a special day for me today as it's amazing to receive all this support. We have worked very hard to get here and I want to thank my country for their incredible support as well as my personal sponsors Roca, KH7, Tag Heuer, Weibo and everyone that has helped me during what has been a long journey to get to this moment. Now it's time to keep working and training as hard as always and I look forward to it all."
"At HRT we are very happy with Ma Qing Hua since he began with us," added David Mancebo, HRT Business Director. "He has progressed notably in his development as a driver and has fitted into the team perfectly. He's a driver with incredible talent and great potential. Ma Qing Hua has achieved an historic milestone for Chinese and world motorsport by becoming the first Chinese driver to make his debut in Formula 1. He has also met the expectations of every challenge he has been presented with and which were more complicated each time. Our team is a young one with a project which is still under construction that looks to the future and, without a doubt, we would like to continue counting on Ma Qing Hua for the future as we have done this year".
"We want to congratulate Ma Qing Hua, the first Chinese Formula 1 driver," said Zhao Yingua, chairman of Shanghai Automobile and Motorsports Association. "This is an important milestone for Chinese motorsport, and from now on, we move into a new era. Formula 1 is one of the most famous sporting events in the world and Ma Qing Hua's participation with HRT Formula 1 Team is great news for China. We are very proud of him and we wish him and the team the very best. We will also make a big effort to support him."
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