Force India's Nikita Mazepin hopes for more F1 chances after "awesome" first test
Force India development driver Nikita Mazepin says his recent Formula 1 test for the Silverstone-based team is the start of a “dream slowly start...
Force India development driver Nikita Mazepin says his recent Formula 1 test for the Silverstone-based team is the start of a “dream slowly starting to come true.”
Mazepin drove Force India’s VJM09 at the in-season test that followed the British Grand Prix last month, and he spoke to JAonF1 at last weekend’s BRDC British Formula 3 round at the Snetterton circuit about the experience, which he hopes will lead to more opportunities.
“It was an awesome test – I really enjoyed it,” he said. “[It’s] a great car, a great team, a dream slowly starting to come true. I think the test went quite smoothly, the weather wasn’t at its best but it’s England, you have to remember that. I think everything else went well. [I’ve got] loads to learn so I’m just hoping for more opportunities and just hoping to a do a better job run-by-run.”
Mazepin was making a guest appearance in the British F3 series in addition to his 2016 commitments for HitechGP in the FIA European F3 championship. When asked how it felt to drive an F1 car compared to an F3 machine, the Russian driver reckoned that the handling characteristics of a V6 turbo era F1 car are similar to those he has experienced during his rookie season in Euro F3.
He said: “It’s just a lot quicker, a lot more downforce, but I think that F3 is very good prep for F1 because F1, in my opinion, is slightly over-gripped and a bit underpowered, which reminds me of F3. So the way you carry the speed through the corner, the way you take corners and brake and things is quite similar.”
Mazepin also outlined his duties as a development driver for Force India, which include driving in the squad’s simulator.
He said: “[Being a development driver] to me means getting more car time really, not realistic car time but by working in the simulator, getting to use the facilities of a Formula 1 team and just being more immersed with racing. The more time I get the better it is.
“It’s a great opportunity, first of all, and second it’s my job to help the team as much as I can. In racing you are always trying to help yourself and help the team because with driving more you get more laptime, and with driving you also help the team by giving them your knowledge and your feedback.”
Mazepin finished eighth in the first British F3 race of the weekend for the Carlin team before going on to win the second race from the reverse-grid pole position, which was his first victory in single-seaters.
As he spoke about where he felt his future driving career might turn, Mazepin explained that while he intends to gather enough points for an F1 superlicence, the 17-year-old has not ruled out racing in any series.
He said: “First of all I see myself as obviously hoping to stay in F3 for next year. My main objective is to do good results there, get enough points on my superlicence and then be an interesting driver for Formula 1 teams and then maybe F1, maybe GP2, maybe IndyCar, I don’t know.
“But obviously my main objective is to do the best job I can and progress year-by-year, race-by-race, to stay in the seat. That’s the main thing, always driving something and making sure I progress.”
Sauber duo expect step forward with Spa update package
Wolff remains wary of Ferrari threat for 2017