The upcoming post-race F1 test in Budapest will see Force India give seat time to Russian Formula 3 driver Nikita Mazepin and Austrian DTM racer Lucas Auer. The youngsters will share driving duties in the VJM10 across the two-day session, with each scheduled to run for half a day on the Tuesday as well as the Wednesday.
For Auer it will be his first experience of a Formula 1 car following his race-winning form for Mercedes in the DTM. For Mazepin, the test will be another chance to continue his development programme following a successful 2016 test with Force India at Silverstone and to drive the 2017 machine.
“I’m really looking forward to testing with Sahara Force India again,” said Mazepin. “I’ve been working with the team for over a year and it’s great to get another chance to drive the car. The last time I drove an F1 car was in 2016 so it’s going to be interesting to make a comparison with the new 2017 regulations.
“I learned so much from the last test and it’s an important part of my development as a driver. I’ve been doing lots of simulator work to get ready for the test and I’m working hard to make sure I deliver everything the team expects from me.”
Auer, whose extensive single-seater experience includes wins in German F3 and the FIA F3 Euro series, commented: “Really exciting news - the most beautiful moment of my life. For me, it's a childhood dream come true to drive an F1 car for the first time. I'm particularly proud that this will happen with Sahara Force India - a top Formula 1 team.
“I must say thank you to everybody who has worked to make this possible, especially to the team at Force India who have given me this opportunity. I will be aiming to make the most of the test - and, of course, I'll be savouring every second of it."
Force India’s team principal Vijay Mallya added: “We are pleased to be running two talented youngsters at the Budapest test. We already know Nikita well and giving him time in the VJM10 is the next stage in his development programme with us.
“I’m delighted to welcome Lucas to the team and will follow his progress closely. It’s always a special moment when a driver gets to experience an F1 car for the first time and I’m pleased Lucas can make his debut in one of our cars.”
The test takes place in the week following the upcoming Hungarian Grand Prix. Race tickets are available here.