Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes team have added a 13-year-old from China to their junior squad, with Formula One yet to produce a driver from the world’s most populous nation.
Cui Yuanpu, who has been karting since the age of six, joins several other potential F1 stars of the future in Mercedes’ young driver programme.
“He’s the top karting talent from China and there hasn’t been a Chinese F1 driver yet so we’re looking forward to seeing how Yuanpu progresses and helping him move up the racing ranks,” said Mercedes driver development advisor Gwen Lagrue.
China held the country’s first grand prix in 2004 at its Shanghai circuit, and also has ambitions to stage a street race.
But there has never been a Formula One driver from China, which is seen as critical for developing the sport’s ambitions there.
Formula Two driver Zhou Guanyu, who is top of this season’s standings, is in pole position to change that.
“I would say definitely I’m the closest ever to get into Formula One as a Chinese driver,” the 22-year-old told AFP earlier this year, cautioning that “the last step is the hardest”.