Tung pleased with F1 progress

Updated: 2013-10-28 07:28

By Wang Zhenghua in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Motor Sports

Two years after switching to Porsche Carrera, Tung Ho-Pin looks forward to being part of the lineup at auto racing's highest level.

The Dutch-born Tung, 30, stepped back last year after not getting a chance to compete as the backup driver for Renault's Formula One team, but he still cherished the opportunity.

"F1 is of course the dream and goal for every racing driver. It's like the ultimate level of racing. Everyone who gets a chance to be involved in F1 will definitely try to go there," Tung said on the sidelines of a Sunday ceremony to unveil the finals of 2013 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, sponsored by Budweiser.

 Tung pleased with F1 progress

Dutch-born Chinese driver Tung Ho-Pin (left) poses with Taiwanese actor Jimmy Lin (right) and 'Chinese Idol' third-pace finisher Ai Fei at the Budweiser-sponsored Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in Shanghai on Sunday. Provided to China Daily

"But there are only 22 drivers in the whole world that can take part in F1, so once you get on a team, like me, it's a championship feeling for sure because it is something you have fought for your whole life."

Tung knows it will take some time for him, or any other Chinese driver, to really shine on the F1 circuit, and he's happy with the progress he's made so far.

He gave himself a mark of 7.5 out of 10 for his performance so far this year, which saw him lead Budweiser Team Starchase in the South Korea leg of the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia in August.

"I am very happy about my performance this year," he said. "Racing is a very complicated sport. You always have to depend on your car, on the team and on the circumstances, so the driver is only one part of the whole organization.

"Of course you always want to do better, and I'm a person that is never satisfied. But throughout the year I have had many satisfying moments. I give myself a mark of 7.5 because I always think I can improve."

After getting his start in kart racing in the Netherlands at the age of 14, Tung rose to prominence in 2004 when he was awarded an F1 test drive with BMW-Williams after becoming the first Chinese to win the Asian Formula BMW Championship.

He won the ATS Formel 3 Cup circuit in 2006 and gave China its first podium finish in the A1 Grand Prix of Nations series in 2007, placing third at Eastern Creek raceway in Sydney, Australia. He moved up to GP2 the same year.

In 2010, he was selected as the backup driver of Renault's F1 team but never got a chance to race. Industry insiders told Tung the lack of financial support is the biggest obstacle for having a Chinese driver in F1, but he declined to push Chinese companies to get more involved in sponsorship.

Instead, he urged drivers to improve themselves first.

"I know a lot of talented young Chinese drivers and I give them my support," he said.

"I think the Federation of Automobile Sports of China is doing a really good job in helping promote the sport in China, giving young drivers a chance to compete at a professional level.

"I think that's very important because at the professional level drivers will be able to develop themselves and then move to a higher level.

"Once those young drivers have strong determination to reach their goal, I am sure there will be many Chinese companies willing to support them.

"Success is a combination of many things, but mainly you need to be very determined. You need determination and a strong will to succeed. Keep fighting hard and try to reach your goal - this is the most important thing for me.

"Talent is important, but if you don't fight with the talent you have, you are still not going to reach your goal."

Tung said he hopes he can keep racing for Budweiser Team Starchase at the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia next year.

"We haven't decided yet, but we have had two very great years together with many great successes," he said.

"I am looking forward to continuing our relationship in the future."

Sunday's event also attracted Jimmy Lin, an actor and amateur car racer from Taiwan, and Ai Fei, a popular singer who finished third on Chinese Idol.

They were given a ride in Tung's car to get a first-hand experience of professional car racing.


(China Daily 10/28/2013 page23)