Force India to Give GP3 Champion Russell Free Practice Opportunities

by Paul Hensby

2017 GP3 Series champion George Russell will make his Formula 1 Free Practice debut this weekend at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace with the Sahara Force India F1 Team, and it could lead to a reserve driver role with the Silverstone-based outfit for 2018.

Russell, who clinched the GP3 crown with a round to spare thanks to four race wins and only two results worse than sixth in the first thirteen races of the campaign, is a Mercedes-Benz Junior driver and will line-up in place of Sergio Perez alongside another Mercedes junior, Esteban Ocon, in free practice in Brazil, with Russell then replace Ocon in the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

“I’m extremely excited to be driving in free practice for Sahara Force India in Brazil and Abu Dhabi,” said Russell. “2017 has already been a year full of great opportunities and to top off the season with these two outings feels fantastic.

“I’ve never driven the VJM10 before or driven at Interlagos, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Sahara Force India for this opportunity and also thank Mercedes for their continued support.”

Team Principal Dr. Vijay Mallya said that now Force India has secured their position in fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, it is a great opportunity to put one of the best young prospects in the car for the two practice sessions to see just how good he is.

“We are happy to give George this opportunity,” said Mallya. “He’s an up-and-coming talent and we’ve followed his success in GP3 closely.

“George has already been in our simulator several times and has worked well with the team. Now that we have secured fourth place in the championship, it’s the ideal time to look to the future and handing George his free practice debut will allow us to evaluate his potential.”

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