The Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 team has signed 13-year-old Chinese karter Yuanpu Cui to its junior team.
Cui is currently racing in junior karting as a factory Kart Republic driver, and has had a tricky start to 2021 with his part-time Italian Karting Championship campaign his most fruitful so far as he sits 16th in the points with two rounds to go.
The few races he did in OK-Junior karts in 2020 contained far more success for Cui, as he finished second in the Andrea Margutti Trophy, 11th in the Italian championship and 19th in the WSK Open Cup.
According to Mercedes’ profile page for its new driver, Cui “first sat in a go-kart at the age of six, after his father Hao bought him a kart for fun”. Hao Cui himself was a racing driver prior to his son’s birth.
The younger Cui was already competing at a national level in karts by the age of eight, and then started racing abroad in Mini karts. He came 14th in the IAME International Final for X30 Mini karts in 2017, finishing one spot ahead of recent McLaren signing Ugo Ugochukwu, and a year later came 16th in the ‘ROK the Rio’ competition in Las Vegas.
Cui’s time in Mini karts continued through 2019 and ’20, with highlights including sixth in the Open Cup, 11th in the WSK Chamons Cup and 19th in the WSK Super Master Series.
Mercedes’ junior roster now includes three karters, with Cui joining fellow factory Kart Republic drivers Andrea Kimi Antonelli and Alex Powell.
Antonelli came second in the Super Master Series and is currently third in the CIK-FIA European Karting Championship in OK karts, while Powell is up against Cui in OK-J machinery and came third in the Super Master Series earlier this year.