Mazepin grabs Force India Development Driver role

Rising Russian star Nikita Mazepin has become the latest driver to be added to the Sahara Force India development team.

The sixteen-year-old, who will race for Hitech Grand Prix in the 2016 FIA European Formula 3 Championship alongside British drivers Ben Barnicoat and George Russell, has joined Mexican Alfonso Celis Jr as a Development Driver within the Silverstone-based team.

“It’s an incredible feeling to join Sahara Force India,” revealed Mazepin. “It’s the biggest step in my career and I want to thank Vijay and everyone in the team for giving me this opportunity.

“I’m still young and I have a lot to learn, so the guidance and experience of Sahara Force India is really important for my development. My goal is to race in Formula One in the future and today’s news takes me closer to achieving that objective.

“I will work hard to help the team and do everything I can to improve my skills on and off the track.”

Team Principal and Managing Director of Force India Dr Vijay Mallya believes it is a fantastic opportunity for Mazepin to learn about how a Formula 1 team works as the young Russian bids to join the premiere single seater category in the future.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Nikita to begin his Formula One apprenticeship and become fully embedded inside our team,” said Mallya. “We have a strong track record of identifying and nurturing young talent and it is clear that Nikita is already a very capable and determined racer.

“2016 will provide the perfect opportunity to showcase his abilities and develop the skills needed to become a Formula One driver. We plan to use him extensively on our new simulator and he will also support our in-season testing programme, which will play an important role in the development of the VJM09.

“It’s also exciting for the team to begin working with a young Russian driver given the success of the Russian Grand Prix in recent years. It’s a market with huge potential for Formula One and the emergence of young talents, such as Nikita, will ensure interest in the sport continues to grow rapidly.”