Just after Pastor Maldonado made his announcement that he won’t be joining the starting grid for Formula 1 2016, two teams announce that they have added two new drivers to their line-up.
Force India is happy to announce that they have signed driver Nikita Mazepin as their newest development driver for the season. The 16-year-old Russian is expected to take part in Force India’s development program and will be participating in the team’s regular simulator sessions. Force India fans can also expect to catch a glimpse of Mazepin throughout the race events of 2016. Force India Team Principal and Managing Director Vijay Mallya also said the young Russian is also expected to “support our in-season testing programme, which will play an important role in the development of the VJM09.”
In 2014, Mazepin finished second place in the 2014 CIK-FIA World Championship, eventually moving up to the Formula Renault 2.0 the following year where he secured his first ever single-seater podium finish. This year, the new Force India development driver also looks to race in the Formula 3 Euro Series with Hi-Tech Racing while continuing on with his Formula 1 commitments. Meanwhile, Force India heads to the 2016 season with drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
As for the Williams team, they have appointed former McLaren test and reserve driver Gary Paffett as its new simulator driver. Paffett, 34, is expected to help in the development of the team’s Mercedes-powered FW38 in its factory in Grove. Regarding Paffett’s addition to the team, Williams Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams said, “He (Paffett) is a highly professional racing driver and his level of testing knowledge, and ability to analyse data, will significantly help to drive forward development of the FW38 throughout the season.”
Williams’ former test driver, Susie Wolff, retired at the end of the 2015 season.