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Force India sign 16-year-old Russian for development role

01 Feb 2016

Nikita Mazepin has joined Force India as a development driver to mark the beginning of a long-term association with the team. The 16-year-old Russian will take part in an extensive development programme with regular simulator sessions and attendance at various race events during the 2016 season.

Mazepin has already captured the attention of motorsport observers. After impressing in karting with second place in the 2014 CIK-FIA World Championship, he graduated to Formula Renault 2.0 in 2015 where he secured his first single-seater podium finish. His racing plans for 2016 include a season in the Formula Three Euro Series with Hi-Tech Racing.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Nikita to begin his Formula One apprenticeship and become fully embedded inside our team,” commented Vijay Mallya, Force India’s team principal and Managing Director. “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 One driver.”

Mazepin stated: “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 One 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.”

“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,” added Mallya. “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 One and the emergence of young talents, such as Nikita, will ensure interest in the sport continues to grow rapidly.”

Force India's race line-up for 2016 remains unchanged, with Germany's Nico Hulkenberg again partnering Mexican team mate Sergio Perez.