Force India have announced that F2 driver Nicholas Latifi will be their reserve and test driver for the 2018 Formula 1 season.
Latifi will provide back up to race drivers Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon and appear in “a number of” Friday practice sessions during the year, in addition to in-season tests throughout the year for the Force India team.
The 22 year old finished fifth in last season’s Formula 2 championship and has been a nine time podium winner in the series, one of which was a victory at one of the F2 races at Silverstone in the British round of the championship last season.
Latifi had held the role of test driver for Renault in 2016, and made his F1 test debut with Renault in last August’s Budapest test. Latifi is likely to get similar in-season testing opportunities for Force India this year.
Several drivers have used the reserve role at Force India to pilot themselves to a full-time drive in the sport, these include Nico Hulkenberg, Paul Di Resta and the late Jules Bianchi.
“I’m really excited about the opportunity. Sahara Force India is a team that has shown constant improvement for the last few years and I’m proud to become a part of one of the success stories of Formula One.” Latifi said during a press release from the Force India team. “I am eager to show the team what I can do and help them as they continue to close the gap to the front of the grid.”
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal Force India, was also quick to sing the praises of their newest reserve driver. “Nicholas joins us off the back of a strong season in F2 and strengthens our driver development programme. He will support our simulator programme and work with the team during a number of Friday practice sessions next year. We have a long track record of bringing on young talented drivers and Nicholas will learn a huge amount as he gets embedded in the team, and looks forward to a career in Formula One.”