Ryan Wood  |    |  1 February 2016

Force India sign 16-year-old Mazepin to development role


Sahara Force India F1 Team

Force India have signed Russian racer Nikita Mazepin to the role of development driver for the 2016 season, which will see the 16-year-old nurtured by the team with various simulator sessions and attendance at several Formula 1 races.

Mazepin competed in Formula Renault 2.0 last year, securing a podium finish in Austria and finishing 12th overall. He will split his time between his development duties with Force India and with HiTech GP in the FIA's Formula 3 European series this year.

Speaking about his new role with the Silverstone-based F1 team, Mazepin said: "It's an incredible feeling to join Sahara Force India. It’s the biggest step in my career and I want to thank Vijay 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."

Team principal Vijay Mallya added: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Nikita to begin his Formula 1 apprenticeship and become fully embedded inside our team. 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. 2016 will provide the perfect opportunity to showcase his abilities and develop the skills needed to become a Formula 1 driver.

"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 1 and the emergence of young talents, such as Nikita, will ensure interest in the sport continues to grow rapidly."

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