Ma Qing Hua's ambition has clearly been piqued by his F1 debut at Silverstone's Young Driver test on Thursday, with the Chinese native already looking forward to building on the outing.
Hua, despite having precious little international single-seater experience prior to being added to HRT F1's driver development programme, completed 82 laps of the British Grand Prix circuit and performed competently enough for the team to decide to pack up instead of staying on for a second day. Although the programme was largely based on getting him up to the speed, the 24-year old admits that is excited about the journey ahead.
"It was a fantastic experience and it's really hard to put into words everything I felt when I got into the F1 car," Hua admitted, "It was very special but also productive; a great day. Everything went perfect; the weather was on our side, it didn't rain and we were able to carry out the established programme without any trouble. It was intense because we practically didn't stop, but that enabled us to cover a lot of miles and finish with a good time. My family and some friends were present, so it was very special.
"The programme started months ago with the objective of preparing these tests well and then continuing to advance. We carried out tests with cars from junior categories such as World Series and GP2, but also training away from the track such as physical preparation and work on the simulator. I've accompanied the team at every race to take in the daily work routine and soak up advice from the technical staff and my team-mates Pedro de la Rosa, Narain Karthikeyan and Dani Clos. I've also been at the Caja Mágica headquarters on various occasions to work with the engineers and all of that helped me to head into the test from a better position and already knowing the team, the car and dynamics.
"From the very start, the team has given me all of its support and I've felt completely backed which makes me feel really comfortable with everyone. I'm lucky because, besides learning from them every day, I've integrated really well. For now, we've taken this step, which was very important. But I'm also aware that it's only the first one. I know where I want to get to and that I still have a lot to do, so the next step is to continue working and progressing to be prepared for the opportunities that may present themselves."
As with any true F1 rookie, there was much still to take in for Hua, who openly concedes that the test did not go exactly as he had envisaged.
"In truth, it was quite different to what I expected," he said, "The F112 is much more comfortable than I thought on the track - you can push it to the limit and it feels good, very stable. I felt comfortable with the balance of the car and with the team's work, because I think we jell together very well and the result was optimal. It was much better
than I expected.
"What surprised me most were the high speed corners and how stable the car is. It can reach as much speed as you want. What surprised me least were the slow corners because the sensation is very similar to what you have in another car. The hardest thing was to remember how the systems and steering wheel worked whilst I was driving. And also the things that require most practice: the start, pit-stops, the pull away... All of this is hard to take in in just one day, because you have to learn the circuit well, get to know the car, the team... There are many things at the same time, but it wasn't a bad way to start."