Force India have signed sixteen-year-old Russian Nikita Mazepin to their development program.
Mazepin will be beginning what Force India are calling “a long-term association with the team.” His role will include time in the simulator and to help support Force India’s in season testing program. He will also be in attendance at several races throughout the season.
Mazepin impressed many during his time in karting, coming second in the 2014 CIK-FIA World Championship. The next year he graduated to Formula Renault 2.0 where he scored a podium on his way to 12th in the standings for his rookie season. Alongside his F1 duties this year Mazepin will also be competing in the Formula 3 Euro Series with Hi-Tech Racing.
When asked about the opportunity he’d been given, Mazepin responded “It’s an incredible feeling to join Sahara Force India. It’s the biggest step in my career and I want to thank Vijay and everyone in the team for giving me this opportunity.”
He is now the second driver on Force India’s development books, as Mexican driver Alfonso Celis was signed last November. Celis has already been confirmed to drive seven of the free practice one sessions in the 2016 season, which gets underway in Australia on the 20th March. Both development drivers will be working alongside full time Force India drivers Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. The team are yet to name their reserve driver for the season ahead.