Pi­o­neer Fong eye­ing China’s first F1 drive

The China Post - - COMMENTARY - BY ALAS­TAIR HIMMER

Hong Kong’s Ad­derly Fong is hop­ing to blaze a trail for Chi­nese mo­tor­sport by be­com­ing the coun­try’s first For­mula One driver — and ex­plode a few myths along the way. The 25-year-old, who com­pleted a prac­tice ses­sion in Abu Dhabi and tested for Sauber last year, was re­cently un­veiled as a devel­op­ment driver for Lo­tus and has bold plans to make a real im­pact on the glam­our sport.

“I want to be a pi­o­neer,” Fong told AFP be­fore the Chi­nese Grand Prix. “But I don’t just want to be here for one race or one sea­son. I want to make a ca­reer out of rac­ing and be able to stay.”

Chi­nese driver Ma Qinghua took part in free prac­tice in his home­town Shang­hai race for Cater­ham in 2013 and Fong is un­der no il­lu­sions as to the scale of the task he faces. “The sports cul­ture in Asia, and more specif­i­cally China, there needs to be a cham­pion be­fore any­one re­ally gets into that sport,” he said in an in­ter­view. “I hope to be the first Chi­nese For­mula One driver — that’s the main goal.”

China ex­pe­ri­enced a bas­ket­ball boom af­ter gi­ant cen­ter Yao Ming joined the Hous­ton Rock­ets in 2002 and shot to fame in the NBA, while Li Na put Chi­nese ten­nis on the map by win­ning the French Open in 2011. How­ever, China has failed to pro­duce a truly world-class foot­baller.

“Ja­pan is re­ally well-de­vel­oped in mo­tor­sport,” said Fong. “They have the kart­ing cat­e­gories, For­mula cat­e­gories. Mo­tor­sport is part of the cul­ture, whereas in China peo­ple only use cars as a means of trans­port.”

Con­trolled Ag­gres­sion

Driv­ing on China’s public roads can be a hair-rais­ing ex­pe­ri­ence as cars swerve and change lanes at break-neck speed, an im­age Fong hopes to help shed with his more con­trolled ag­gres­sion on the track. “It’s a kind of free-forall,” he smiled. “But it’s a cul­ture thing. Back when there were no penal­ties for red lights, peo­ple just went, so I guess that’s kind of car­ried on. You kind of have to fight your way.”

And Fong in­sisted he had the right stuff to battle his way to a For­mula One drive. “To be able to com­pete at mo­tor­sports at a com­pet­i­tive level you need to go to Europe,” said the Canadian-born Fong, who grew up idol­iz­ing Ger­man great Michael Schu­macher. “If I can do it then a lot more peo­ple will think they can do it too.”

AFP

This photo taken on Fri­day, April 10 shows Lo­tus F1 team devel­op­ment driver Ad­derly Fong watch­ing a mon­i­tor in the team garage dur­ing the sec­ond prac­tice ses­sion ahead of the For­mula One Chi­nese Grand Prix in Shang­hai.

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