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Ma looking at alternatives to HRT

6 December 2012

Suggestions that Chinese backers could revive the HRT project in order to provide Ma Qing Hua with an F1 race seat faded with last the weekend's confirmation of the 2013 entry list, but the Friday morning test driver is still looking for a way to remain involved in the top flight next season.

According to Spain's Diario AS newspaper, Ma's representatives were spotted in conversations with both the Caterham and Marussia teams in Brazil, raising the possibility that he could take useful sponsorship to either for the 2013 campaign. Neither team has filled its line-up for next season, with Charles Pic moving from Marussia to fill one seat at Caterham and leaving Timo Glock as the only confirmed driver for the Banbury-based operation. Various drivers have already been linked to the two vacancies – notably Bruno Senna alongside 2012 incumbents Vitaly Petrov and Heikki Kovalainen at Caterham and official reserve Max Chilton at Marussia – but Ma's anticipated financial package could trump all of them.

While the Chinese driver undoubtedly made progress during his various 2012 outings with HRT, it remains to be seen whether he would be considered for a race seat without further experience but, at the end of the grid where money talks loudest, anything remains possible. Marussia, in particular, would welcome a financial boost amid rumours that it could be excluded from 'Column 3' benefits under the new Concorde Agreement and is already tackling debts accrued over three years of running at the tail of the field [see story here].

Speculation, albeit premature, linking Ma to a possible promotion to HRT's race line-up were scuppered when owner Thesan Capital decided to pull the plug when no viable buyer came forward to rescue the team. The collapse of the project was blamed on failed talks with potential Qatari investors earlier in the season.


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