Finishing 11th of 12 drivers at the second day of testing in Jerez, Ho Pin Tung represented himself well with the Renault squad according to chief race engineer and alleged race-gate whistle-blower Alan Permane.
“I was impressed with Ho-Pin as he settled into the car very quickly and worked well with the team,” he said.
“His driving style is quite well suited to an F1 car as he used the tyres well, had a good feel for the car and gave us precise feedback.”
Can finishing second to last have a meaningful impact on a possible drive in F1? It most certainly can if the sponsor money is there and as Ho Pin flashes partnerships like Bell, Hugo Boss, Omega and Gravity who knows how much dosh who can squeeze from them? Ho Pin felt good behind the wheel on his first excursion in the Renault R29:
â€œThis was my first proper test in an F1 car and it was a great experience. To begin with I concentrated on finding a reasonable set-up and then got down to working through the programme with the engineers as we tested some parts for the 2010 car. The morning went by so quickly, but it was good to cover 67 laps and the track really improved throughout the morning. What impressed me most was the speed you can carry through the corners and the braking performance of these cars, which takes some getting used to. I learnt a lot today and really enjoyed working with the whole team. I will stay here tomorrow so that I can sit in on all the debriefs and continue learning.â€
It remains to be seen but my hunch is that Kamui Kobayashi might garner some bigger sponsor dollars and might be worth taking a long look at if I am Renault, Lotus, Virgin, USF1 or Campos Meta. Perhaps Ho Pin can still find room at the inn should he promise some sponsor dollars and that would be good for the Chinese grand prix as attendance is suffering so much they bus school kids in for the race to fill the seats.
The Japanese love motorsport but the Chinese, like Americans, may need a local-boy-does-good story to gain their interest. No question the market is huge in China for the car companies and perhaps commercial rights boss Bernie Ecclestone can orchestrate a ride for the erstwhile driver from China whose last toil in an F1 car was an obligatory Williams test in 2003 after winning the Asian Formula BMW series.