Celis to make test and practice debuts with Force India

2016 F1 season

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Celis raced in Formula Renault 3.5 this year
Force India has announced the signing of 19-year-old Mexican racer Alfonso Celis as their development driver.

He will drive for the team in the upcoming Abu Dhabi test and will make seven appearances as a practice driver during the 2016 F1 season.

Celis said testing for the team will be “the biggest moment in my career” so far. “It’s a huge honour to begin working with Sahara Force India,” he added. “It’s an amazing opportunity for me to learn about Formula One and to work closely with the engineers and race drivers.”

Celis has competed in a broad range of racing disciplines over the past three seasons including Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Three, GP3 and the Toyota Racing Series. He spent a full season in Formula Renault 3.5 this year, placing 16th overall but enduring several retirements due to electrical problems on his car. A parallel campaign in GP3 saw take a best finish to date of third at Spa-Francorchamps.

He will remain in the three-and-a-half litre class next year as the championship is rebranded as Formula 3.5 V8.

Force India also confirmed Nico Hulkenberg will drive the team’s car during the Abu Dhabi test, sharing duties with Celis.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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38 comments on “Celis to make test and practice debuts with Force India”

  1. umm .. who?

    1. @square-route I believe his most recent win was two years ago in the Panam GP Series, a successor of the old Mexican Formula Three championship, in 2013 (they have a Twitter account but their website appears to be dead). He’s certainly been busy though – he’s done a full season of 3.5, almost a full season of GP3 and a few F3 races this year. Doesn’t look particularly promising though.

  2. Exactly. & that is why I was so surprised. Probably bringing nice chunk of money with him; not that I would mind. FI needs it most definitely.

    1. Sorry, ^this was supposed to be a reply to @keithcollantine.

  3. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
    19th November 2015, 12:09

    Another mediocre Mexican on the grid…

    CVC should just go ahead and sell the whole lot to Carlos Slim

    1. Another mediocre Mexican on the grid

      Except he’s not actually on the grid; he’s the development driver

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        19th November 2015, 15:10

        I stand pedantically corrected

    2. And better get used to it.
      Perhaps what you find mediocre here it’s just the foundation for something bigger, better Mexican drivers in the future… I find your comment aggressive as it has no arguments. Slim is indeed investing in F1, something much needed, do you think he is going to be supporting Brits here? You should know by now that F1 is a business and not the sport we all would like.
      Give this kid the benefit of doubt and be more tolerant, please

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        20th November 2015, 11:56

        I have to respectfully disagree @drrapg
        My argument is simply that nationality shouldn’t trump talent. I agree im being idealistic in what F1 should be, but it doesn’t mean we should roll over and be happy about it.

        Its hard to feel tolerant, when this kid gets a shot and Stoffel Vandoorne doesn’t. Vandoorne doesn’t need ‘the benefit of the doubt’. As Mark Webber says, F1 isn’t a finishing school, yet SV, JEV, K-Mag, Frijns et al sit on the sidelines whilst Slim’s boys get the golden seat-fitting.

        It’s very likely the current Mexico fever will inspire a world class Mexican hero in future, and it would be great if it does; but Alfonso Celis is not that hero.

        1. @fullcoursecaution Thank you for replying your arguments and sharing your opinion, when you put it like this it makes much more sense and I almost completely agree. When a driver is mediocre, it should be criticized, I just think that making emphasis on his nationality is unnecessary and antiquated.

          I don’t expect much from Celis, I don’t like Guti and think that he still has to prove that he deserves the drive. I believe in Checo and I don’t think that he is mediocre, he just beated the much hyped Hulk this season (unless Hulk gets an unlikely second place in Abu Dhabi).

          However, the price we pay for having this “unworthy” drivers instead of proven promises like the ones you mentioned, pays off when the money we are investing is pushing forward a team like Force India and adding competitiveness to the sport… I dare to say that force India achieved 5th place thanks to that investment. Lets look at the bright side, pay drivers is not the worst thing that can happen to F1.

    3. Well, Checo Perez is currently beating the much hyped and beloved Hulkenberg which makes him not mediocre at least.

      On the other hand i agree they should sell force india to Carlos Slim and name it Scuderia Telmex.

  4. In case you were wondering, Force India, he is not the next Sergio Perez. Being the next Gutierrez would look to be beyond Alfonso’s abilities…

    Frustrating is probably too small a word for Ollie Rowland’s position right now, who is stunningly talented but seemingly invisible…

  5. Talk about a surprise! He must have good backing, considering he’s basically done a double season this year, while in some ways it’s not surprising to see 3 Mexicans driving given the response the race got this year.

    I had thought that Force India would be running Esteban Ocon instead, alongside DTM – with Wehrlein at Manor. Maybe Mercedes are being more cautious how they spend their money, now that Ferrari might be close next year?

  6. Fudge Ahmed (@)
    19th November 2015, 13:02

    He looks like a girl.

    1. Initially I thought I was reading about a new female driver as well…

    2. @offdutyrockstar Even though I knew it Alfonso Celis Jr. when I saw the pic, a part of me said that must be Katherine Legge or Simona de Silvestro

  7. Good to see the FIA license points system doing its job!


    1. yep, working exactly as expected!

      1. Yeah @andae23 sigh, well said @bascb

  8. Thank god they didn’t give the role to Ocon or Wehrlein.

    1. Are you serious? You’re putting Celis Jr, who placed 16th in FR3.5 this year and hasn’t even been able to break the top 10 of a feeder series since Formula BMW, above this year’s DTM champion, and last year’s rookie F3 champion?

      1. Are you serious?

        I suspect not?

      2. Are you serious?

        No. I should have hit the button 😀

  9. His track record in GP3 and Formula Gibson 3.5 isn’t that great, but that mullet? Legendary.

  10. How much of these test drivers actually contribute to the development of these cars, I mean how much driver input is required or is it completely telemetry, cause wouldn’t it make sense to have your car developed according to your grid drivers rather than rely upon a rookie. I mean what does this bloke know about an F1 car.

  11. Until the second paragraph I thought this was an announcement about Force India taking on a token female driver with a lot of backing but it turns out it’s just a token Mexican test driver with backing.

    Force India, based in England, funded by Mexico.

  12. It’s good to have more women driving F1 cars! Awesome.

  13. Force India-Mexico Aston Martin Racing.

    Whatever brings the money in. 2 countries and a sports car company. Still better than 4 drivers lol

  14. I didn’t have time to read the article, only to look at the picture. I’m glad to see Danica finally landed an F1 role.

  15. Saurabh (@sksahukanker62)
    20th November 2015, 5:57

    must be bringing a lot of money…

  16. Yeap money do the talking here, considering he was 1,5 seconds behind his team mate in yesterday’s GP3 qualifying.

    P.S. He looks like Michelle Mouton in her glory days in this picture.

  17. Mark in Florida
    20th November 2015, 21:59

    Haha, It must be Montezumas revenge ! It’s the sickness you get when you visit Mexico. Formula I is getting to be like the World Wrestling Entertainment organization. Come on this guy gets a seat. It just proves money can buy anything. What message is this sending ? Send us your money not your talent doesn’t matter..

    1. 1. It’s moctezuma’s revenge
      2. You only get it if you’re a dumb gringo who don’t listen to the recommendations
      3. It has nothing to do with this
      4. Whoever pays gets to decide who and where and when, it’s a life’s fact, get over it

      1. Mark in Florida
        21st November 2015, 1:39

        I am over it that’s why I’m laughing….Perez is a great driver and deserves his seat, this guy is keeping the other future Pereze’s from being able to drive. You don’t have to be a gringo to see that.

        1. On that, I agree, and what worries me is the question, isn’t there a better Mexican driver? Do we really have to try with Guti and Celis?

          1. Mark in Florida
            21st November 2015, 16:06

            If Temex or some other big company would sponsor some sharp young driver at a young age like McLaren did with Hamilton and RBR did with Vettle you would have a great driver being developed. This Celis deal seems like a total waste of time. I will be rooting for HAAS F1 next year but I don’t expect a lot out of Guttierez. He is an a average driver with money and Ferrari backing. If Haas had been able to get Perez and Romain that would have been a real coup. Then you would have had a really good north american driver and a very experienced european, people could get behind a team like that.

  18. I didn’t realise that Alan Partridge traded in his Lexus for a race car.

    Well done, Alan.


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