Force India's newest recruit: Russian teen Nikita Mazepin
It was deadline day for sports all over the world yesterday – Formula One included. Several teams made big announcements yesterday, with Force India announcing that 18-year-old Nikita Mazepin would be their development driver for the 2016 Formula One season.
The teenager, who last year raced in the Formula Renault 2.0 season with Josef Kaufmann racing, will simultaneously carry out development duties and be a part of the Formula 3 European Championships, driving with British racing team Hitech GP.
He finished the 2015 F3 season in 12th with four retirements over the year, but had a podium finish at the Red Bull Ring.
Mazepin will join 19-year-old Alfonso Celis, who was last year announced as the team’s new development driver. The Mexican teen is himself a GP3 graduate, and the team have said he will be part of seven practice sessions in the 2016 season.
In a release shared via social media, team co-owner Vijay Mallya said the team "...plan to use him extensively on our new simulator and he will also support our in-season testing programme,” saying also that his appointment "the beginning of a long-term association with the team".
It is not clear if the 18-year-old, the son of Russian fertiliser tycoon Dmitry Mazepin and sponsored by his father’s company, Uralchem, will be part of in-season testing in Jerez – but all seats are now filled, with primary drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez both having their contracts renewed last year.