Force India signs 16-year-old Mazepin

2016 F1 season

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Force India has appointed Russian 16-year-old Nikita Mazepin as a development driver.

Mazepin had his first full season in racing cars last year having finished second in the 2014 CIK-FIA KF karting final. He placed 12th in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC series, mostly behind drivers in their second or third year of competition at that level.

Among the other rookies who finished ahead of him was Jehan Daruvala, who has been backed by Force India since finishing as a runner-up in their ‘One from a Billion’ programme to find new Indian racing talent. Like Daruvala, Mazepin also made a handful of appearances in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup, however the Russian driver did not score in his seven starts.

Mazepin, whose kart success means he already has three FIA superlicence points, will race in the European F3 championship this year. He said the move was the “biggest step in my career” so far.

“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,” said Mazepin. “My goal is to race in Formula One in the future and today’s news takes me closer to achieving that objective.”

Team principal Vijay Mallya said Force India has “a strong track record of identifying and nurturing young talent and it is clear that Nikita is already a very capable and determined racer.”

“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.”

The team has previously announce Alfonso Celis Jnr will drive during selected Formula One practice sessions this year.

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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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13 comments on “Force India signs 16-year-old Mazepin”

  1. Whenever a ‘development driver’ is announced you can kinda expect there’s some form of catch. He is the son of billionaire Dmitry Mazepin, chairman of a company called Uralchem, so expect to see their logos on the side of the car this year.

    1. @andae23 Don’t forget the usual ‘shock-factor’ in this case him being another teenager.

      1. Aaaaa, yeees. He is zeeery feeest. Zo feest you wouldnot believe it.

        Oh and has decent backing. Maybe in 3 years more than Rio Haryanto… You know 91 starts 3 wins… real mark of champion.

        Meanwhile in Belgium, poor country from europe… Vandoorne bearly got 11 wins from 43 races… c c c. Real Slowbie.

        Development drivers are just a parking space for sponsorship, kind of like private piano lessons for the rich.

  2. I like this tactic from Force India: run the two best race drivers available, Hulkenberg and Perez, and pay them and half the engineering staff with the revenue from your “development drivers”. Clever, albeit Lotus got the tactic a bit wrong when they signed up their “development driver” to replace their outgoing frontman…

    1. albeit Lotus got the tactic a bit wrong when they signed up their “development driver” to replace their outgoing frontman


    2. I doubt their salaries are from the team. More likely that Dekra is paying Hulkenburg and Perez has the usual Slim companies (Claro\Telmex\etc) behind him.

  3. Great news for Force India… and smart move by – 1) Getting the publicity of a driver young than Max Verstappen associated with their team. 2) Making some good money off the billionaire father of the development driver

    1. …without actually having the tiniest inclination of ever letting him anywhere near a race seat.

  4. I’m sorry, but I can’t help but hear his last name always said in Homestarrunner’s voice…

  5. Must have cost his dad an almond a leg.

    1. He’ll be the icing on the cake.

  6. He is 16 so who knows what he can do he may have a rich daddy but at that age he could have some talent to. I know one thing he will be an f1 driver in future his dad is a billionaire not a millionaire so it is almost guaranteed he will be a piltot

  7. Mazepin isn’t bad, but it’s quite clear why the likes of him and Celis Jr are getting the opportunities they are getting. Daruvala on the other hand is a real talent (and I don’t say this just because I happen to be from the same country as him) and Force India are probably considering him as a long-term project.

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