The 2011 Chinese Touring Car champion will become the first Chinese driver in Formula One.

Ma Qing Hua will become the first Chinese driver to compete in Formula One when he lines up for the Hispania team in Friday's opening practice session for the Italian Grand Prix.

The 24-year-old Shanghai-born Ma got the call up from the Spanish team after completing 82 laps at Silverstone during a young drivers' session in July.

Ma, the 2011 Chinese Touring Car champion, had previously competed in Formula Renault, A1 Grand Prix, Formula Three and Superleague.

HRT announced on their official website that he would replace Indian Narain Karthikeyan for the session, .

“This is a very important step towards my dream of becoming a Formula 1 driver,”

“It will be my second time in the car,” Ma said, “and I'm very excited about driving at a circuit like Monza.

“The objective of this session is to continue advancing with my programme, rack up more miles and experience at the wheel of an F1car and help the team with whatever they need.”

Reflecting on the wider significance of Friday's practice he added: “It will be the first time that a Chinese driver takes part in a Grand Prix and that for Chinese motorsport is another huge stride and a fantastic opportunity.”

He thanked those who had helped him to arrive at this point, including his parents and the Chinese Motorsport Federation.

Hispania team boss Luis Perez-Sala commented: “Since we started working with him in March everything has been very quick but Ma has responded and overcome every phase accordingly.

“He's fulfilled our expectations without making any mistakes and proven himself as a quick and safe driver with a great capability to adapt.” - AFP