Force India signs Mazepin as development driver

Russian racer Nikita Mazepin has joined the ranks of the Force India Formula 1 junior programme ahead of his switch to F3 racing.

Force India signs Mazepin as development driver
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India
Nikita Mazepin, Hitech Racing
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Sergio Perez, Sahara Force India F1 VJM08
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner in the FIA Press Conference
Alfonso Celis Jr., Force India
Alfonso Celis Jr., Sahara Force India F1 Team Development Driver

Mazepin, 16, has joined Force India for what is described as a “long-term association”, and will take on a development driver role in the upcoming season.

“It’s an incredible feeling to join Sahara Force India,” said Mazepin. “It’s the biggest step in my career and I want to thank Vijay [Mallya] 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 1 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.”

The son of billionaire and Uralchem owner Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita made his full-time switch to car racing in 2015 on the heels of finishing runner-up in the CIK-FIA World Karting championship – trailing champion Lando Norris but ending up ahead of fellow Force India protege Jehan Daruvala and now-former Red Bull junior Callum Ilott.

The Russian competed in Formula Renault 2.0 NEC last year, taking 12th overall with a maiden podium at Spielberg.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Nikita to begin his Formula One apprenticeship and become fully embedded inside our team,” said Force India team boss 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. 

“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.”

Mazepin, who will race for Hitech GP in European F3 this year, joins the Eurocup FR2.0-bound Daruvala and F3.5 racer Alfonso Celis on Force India's development roster.

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