Force India will use new development driver Nikita Mazepin "extensively", says team principal Vijay Mallya.
The 16-year-old Russian has been signed as a development driver for what Force India says is "the beginning of a long-term association with the team". While Mazepin only has one year of single seater racing in Formula Renault 2.0 under his belt so far, Mallya says the team plans to give him a significant workload.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Nikita to begin his Formula One apprenticeship and become fully embedded inside our team," Mallya said. "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. 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 One and the emergence of young talents, such as Nikita, will ensure interest in the sport continues to grow rapidly.”
Force India announced Alfonso Celis as another development driver at the end of 2015, with the Mexican taking part in the Pirelli tyre test after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.