In line with the outing granted to Nico Rosberg after his triumph in the German Formula BMW Championship last season, newly-crowned Asian series king Tung Ho-Pin will be accorded the same opportunity, making him the first Chinese driver to get an F1 run.

BMW Motorsport announced the opportunity following the final rounds of the Asian series in China on Sunday, and confirmed that Tung will get behind the wheel of a contemporary Williams-BMW at some point during the winter testing schedule.

"We have been watching Tung all season and, with ten wins in the series this year, we recognise his potential," commented Guido Stalmann, BMW Motorsport's general manager of sponsorship and business relations, who was present at the official FBMW Asia prizegiving in Beijing.

Team Meritus driver Tung dominated the FBMW Asia series, taking ten wins from 14 races, although, ironically he could not triumph on home soil at the weekend. Nevertheless, he found it hard to hide his joy when news of the F1 test broke at the award ceremony.

"It has been my dream to drive an F1 car since I started racing," the 21-year old admitted, "I think every racer dreams of that, but I never imagined it would happen so soon! It's going to take time for this to sink in. I'm speechless - the only thing I have to say is 'when is the test'!"

Team Meritus founder and president Peter Thompson was also pleased with the news.

"We all knew Ho-Pin was something special, even during pre-season testing," he explained, "The F1 test is great news and he thoroughly deserves it."

Tung is the third Asian driver that Meritus has coached on his way to an F1 outing. Narain Karthikeyan tested for Jordan GP and Jaguar F1 after winning the 1996 Asian Formula 2000 championship, while, in 1999, Japanese ace Takuma Sato won the AF2000 race at the Macau Grand Prix with Meritus, before dominating British F3 and then racing for Jordan and BAR in F1.

The inaugural FBMW Asia series has attracted tremendous attention throughout the region and, in just one season, has established itself as the most professional and comprehensive training ground for young Asian drivers embarking on a single seater racing career.

"The fact that Tung has been given this opportunity will show ambitious and talented young drivers that Formula BMW Asia provides an important and powerful launch to their careers," said series MD David Sonenscher.

 

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