The best part of doing research on items is the information you receive and find you are not looking for. To my surprise I found out that back in 2003 already there was an attempt by the Chinese to enter the Formula one with a Chinese F1 team. At that time China was preparing for the first Grand Prix organized in the country. And how would you promote it better than with an Chinese F1 Team?
The last few years there were several rumours of Chinese F1 teams to appear on the grid. In 2017 China F1 Racing Team Limited was announced to debut in the Formula one while it seemed to be more serious the team did not appear on the grid as you can read here. That same year another Chinese consortium was rumoured to be ready to appear on the grid, though it was unknown who was behind It as it could be read here. Last year there was also the Panthera Team Asia F1 which won’t appear on the grid.
In July 2003 the news appeared that an Chinese F1 team was to make its debut in 2004. Moreover, in 2004 the Chinese Grand Prix would held for the first time. Deputy general manager of the Shanghai International Circuit Yu Zhifei China was ready to get fully involved in the Formula One. At that time the Chinese auto sport was not that big. They did have however, Ho-Pin Tung the Dutch-Chinese driver who mostly drove under the Chinese banner.
On the 26th of July in 2003 a deal was signed whereby Grandtour tyre will provide 9 million dollar in a joint venture with the Chinese Guangdong based Formula Racing Development Ltd (FRD). SIC would be responsibility for the marketing of the team. The idea behind this was to find decent Chinese drivers to be active in the Formula One. The base seemed to be good, as well it could be decent job for sponsors to promote themselves.
The aim of the Chinese F1 team was to develop the technology and capability to compete the coming years in the Formula One like Ferrari and Williams.