Ho-Pin Tung has been China's most promising racing driver for the past ten years but has failed to make an impact on the sport. As a Renault test driver he is now closer than ever to driving in Formula One, but at 27-years-old and with just two junior championships to his name, he will have to up his game to be picked over his younger GP2 contemporaries.
Despite driving under a Chinese licence he was born in the Netherlands and first started karting in a Dutch championship in 1997. He then progressed to Formula Ford in 2001 before dominating the Formula BMW Asia Series in 2003. It was an impressive performance and he won a test with Williams BMW as a result. However on moving back to Europe to race in German Formula 3, he was met with much tougher competition and initially struggled for results. In 2006 he finally hit his stride and won the championship with nine victories, beating Williams driver Nico Hulkenberg along the way.
He then got a break in GP2 driving for the uncompetitive BCN team and managed to score a handful of points in his debut year. In 2008 he changed teams and was instantly more successful. His single greatest achievement was a podium in the Monaco sprint race; although over the course of the season he was comprehensively outperformed by team-mate Mike Conway.
In 2009 his career appeared to hit a dead-end as he had to settle for a drive in the Football-themed Superleague Series for Galatasaray. However, news that the owner of his management team was making a move to purchase Renault suddenly pushed him back into the limelight, and he made his F1 return at a young drivers' test - five years after his debut with Williams. Two months later and he was confirmed as a Renault test driver and had a race seat back in GP2 with DAMS.
He has been given a second chance but it remains to be seen whether he has the talent to take it.
Strengths and Weaknesses
As a Chinese driver he could be the key to a relatively untapped market for any team looking for sponsorship. However, it remains to be seen if he has the ability at the top level to back it up.
Testing a Renault during the young drivers' test. He completed 71 laps in total but was over half a second off Lucas di Grassi in the same car on the same day.
Losing his GP2 seat after a chequered season in 2008.
"It is quite odd being the centre of attention testing at Williams, there are lots of people who want to speak to me - and lots of girls. Girls keep coming up to me. If I had time for a girlfriend, she would certainly be jealous."
"It is an honour to be considered so highly by the Chinese and it's an honour to be the first Chinese driver. But I am in this for the sport; I'm in it to win, to beat everybody, not just other Chinese."
He has his own online computer game imaginatively called 'Ho-Pin Tung Racer'.
Abu Dhabi young driver test line-up takes shape (October 20, 2010)
Renault Roadshow to hit streets of Seoul (September 16, 2010)
Bianchi fit to race at Spa (August 26, 2010)
Grosjean set to replace Tung in Spa (August 24, 2010)
- Jules Bianchi out 'for a long time' after fracturing vertebra (August 2, 2010)
August 31, 2010
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May 14, 2010
© Sutton Images
January 31, 2010
© Sutton Images