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