Mexican Celis joins Force India as development driver

Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:04am EST
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LONDON (Reuters) - Mexican teenager Alfonso Celis has joined Force India as a development driver and will take part in seven practice sessions next year, the Formula One team said on Thursday.

The 19-year-old, who has been racing in the junior GP3 series, will drive a Formula One car for the first time in Abu Dhabi testing after next week's season-ending grand prix.

Force India said the Mexico City-born driver, who has had one podium finish in GP3 so far, will also carry out simulator work.

"As our development driver we will work hard to prepare him for the demands of driving in Formula One and provide a good grounding in all aspects of the job," said team co-owner Vijay Mallya in a statement.

Force India already have experienced Mexican driver Sergio Perez racing for them along with Germany's Nico Hulkenberg and are also backed by several Mexican sponsors.

The country's presence in Formula One is growing, with Mexico returning to the grand prix calendar this season after a 23-year absence and Esteban Gutierrez joining the new Haas F1 team as a race driver.

"Ever since I started racing I’ve been dreaming of Formula One, so it’s a huge honor to begin working with Sahara Force India," said Celis.

"It’s an amazing opportunity for me to learn about Formula One and to work closely with the engineers and race drivers. Being on the track in Abu Dhabi will be an incredible feeling."

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

Force India team members wait for their car in the pit lane during the second practice session of the Indian F1 Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, on the outskirts of New Delhi,  October 25, 2013. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood