Could Renault’s test driver Ho-Pin Tung be making his debut as a Friday test driver with Renault?
It would seem to be the case, with the FIA granting the Dutch-Chinese dual national a probationary FIA Superlicense, granting him permission to participate in Grand Prix events over the next four race weekends.
The sporting regulations dictate that all drivers who participate in the Formula 1 World Championship must have a Superlicense, which can be achieved either by accruing sufficient testing mileage – a Grand Prix distance of 300 kilometres – or by achieving significant results in a FIA-sanctioned championship, such as the European Formula 3 series.
However, Tung – who has just one podium finish to his name in three seasons of GP2 competition to-date – fails to meet the criteria, and Renault’s third driver has been handed special dispensation by the FIA and will therefore be allowed to represent Renault (should the team wish to do so) in the next four Grand Prix weekends.
The most likely scenario for Tung would be to join the ranks of the 2010 Friday test drivers, in the same manner as Paul di Resta (Force India), Fairuz Fauzy (Lotus), Christian Klien (HRT) and Sakon Yamamoto (HRT).
The Superlicense becomes a full license on the proviso that no questionable on-track incident occurs over the first four race weekends. This situation mirrored the situation meted out to Kimi Räikkönen in his maiden F1 season with Sauber in 2001, after the Finn had competed in only thirteen open-wheel races before making his F1 debut.
Dutch-born Tung (who competes under a Chinese license) won the 2003 Formula BMW Asia and 2006 ATS Formel 3 Cup championships, and has also competed in the A1 Grand Prix Superleague Formula and International GT Open series’ to-date. He currently is competing in his third GP2 season, driving for Renault’s junior squad, DAMS, this season (pictured left).
On the basis of this less-than-stellar results in the Formula 1 feeder category, one wonders what set-up feedback he will provide the team as a Friday test driver… Would it remiss to assume that he comes armed with a fistful of sponsorship?
[Original images via GP Update]