Auer, Russell Linked with 2018 Force India Reserve Driver Deals

by Paul Hensby

The Sahara Force India F1 Team could have two new reserve drivers for the 2018 Formula 1 season, with both George Russell and Lucas Auer set to be appointed by the Silverstone-based team.

With Esteban Ocon continuing to impress, the Frenchman has been linked with a possible move to the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team in 2019, which would leave an opening at Force India, and the team has already stated that they would prefer to have a reserve driver in place next season to get to know the team and prepare themselves for a possible promotion to the race seat the following season.

According to German Publication Auto Bild, Mercedes-Benz junior Russell, who will make his free practice debut with Force India this weekend at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace and has already confirmed himself as the 2017 GP3 Series champion, will join the FIA Formula 2 Championship field in 2018 alongside his possible Force India commitments, while Auer is likely to remain in the German-based DTM Series with Mercedes, in what would be the marquee’s final year in the series before they withdraw to focus on the FIA Formula E championship.

The possible arrival of Russell and/or Auer could prove costly to both Alfonso Celis Jr. and Nikita Mazepin, with the Mexican and Russian drivers likely to see their links with the team jeopardised as Force India look outside of those drivers who have big budgets in favour of those with a true racing pedigree.

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