The Chinese media appears to have got it wrong by announcing on Tuesday that Shanghai native Ma Qinghua will race for HRT in 2013. Chinese outlets made the call after the 24-year-old and HRT officia...
Chinese outlets made the call after the 24-year-old and HRT officials fronted a press conference in Shanghai.
But it seems to be a misunderstanding.
The press conference was to congratulate Ma on his 'debut' as an 'official' F1 driver this year, as he appeared three times at FIA-sanctioned grands prix for free practice sessions.
And as his Chinese sponsors were thanked publicly, the HRT officials indicated that Ma's career with the Spanish team will continue to move ahead next season.
"I feel very honoured and thankful to be a formula one driver," Ma is quoted as saying. "It has been a dream since I was very little."
But Shanghai Daily, earlier saying Ma will race next year, now says the Chinese driver is "edging closer" to his grand prix debut.
And HRT has also moved to clarify the confusion in the European press, with France's Auto Hebdo saying the team officially "denied" Tuesday's reports.
But the messages remained mixed.
Ma wrote on his Tencent Weibo account on Tuesday that he was "really happy" with Tuesday's events, marking "the real start of my F1 career".
"It will encourage me to train harder and perform well in testing and racing."
He said he hopes to return to the practice cockpit in Austin and Brazil later this month, "which should be good for my future".
But Ma also admitted that HRT has actually not decided on its race lineup for next year.
"Of course I wish to make my debut in Shanghai next year, so I can have the opportunity to show my family and friends what I can do in my hometown," he said.
"But it all depends on my team's arrangement."