Martin Cao Hongwei doesn't need to be told about the impact a Chinese driver could have on Formula One - the marketing and management student could write a thesis on it. Cao, who won the British Formula Three championship this year and is competing at the Macau Grand Prix this weekend, would rather be the subject of that thesis himself. It was a difficult time because there weren't many Chinese supporters of motor sport in China, but it's getting better with more people involved and more sponsors Martin Cao The 21-year-old, from Changsha in Hunan province, began racing karts aged six, but his career kicked on when he went to England to study and hooked up with the Fortec team, for whom he's racing at Macau. "I just loved driving basically and wanted to drive and drive fast," says Cao of his early days on China's fledgling karting circuit. His parents didn't really understand his passion for a sport that has not grabbed the national consciousness, but have backed him throughout. "It was a difficult time because there weren't many Chinese supporters of motor sport in China, but it's getting better with more people involved and more sponsors," adds Cao, whose perfect English has a twinge of West Midlands accent from his time at Keele University. "I started karting from 2004 in the China Karting Championship, went to Formula Renault in 2008 and did two years in the China Touring Car Championship with Ford and won some races. "When I finished high school in China I went to England for university and picked up Formula Renault with Fortec and finished fourth over the championship and that led to F3." In September, Cao became the first Chinese ever to win the British F3 championship - "I was quite happy" - adding his name to the likes of Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen, Nelson Piquet, Jackie Stewart and many others who went on to F1. The only other Asian to win the British F3 title is Japan's Takuma Sato, a former Macau GP winner who had seven seasons in F1. With Asians under-represented on the starting grid - Kamui Kobayashi is the only one this season - and teams desperate for new sponsorship and marketing opportunities, Cao realises his potential value to teams seeking to engage with more than a billion possible fans. Ma Qinghua became the first Chinese driver to be involved in an F1 weekend when he practised with HRT in 2012, and Hong Kong's Adderly Fong tested with Sauber this year, but the starting grid seems a long way away, despite the massive boost it would be to the sport in China. Ma and Fong were r acing in the support events in Macau. "For me, that's about politics," says Cao, admitting the door might open easier because of his nationality. "It's not up to me to decide or consider, I just do my job to drive faster and be competitive. But I'm open to opportunities. "I'll probably get more interest because I'm Chinese. Hopefully, one day I'll drive an F1 car … "I did a couple of days testing with Ferrari last year [in an F3 car], it went okay and I've been to McLaren as well [MP4-12 GT]. "So I'm on their radar and a win in Macau would be perfect [to solidify that interest]. I'm looking forward to finishing at least top six, top eight, and hopefully get a really good start and go for the podium." Cao will have his work cut out after qualifying 17th, however. A step up to European F3 or the GP2 circuit might be next but the first is finishing his masters degree. "I still need a degree It's not a deal [with his parents] or anything, just the life experience - I don't want to look back when I'm 60 or 70 and not have those memories." Graduation from Keele is not far away … graduating to Formula One will be altogether tougher.