Force India has hired Nicholas Latifi, who has previously tested for Mercedes and Renault, as its new test and reserve driver for the 2018 F1 season.
The 22-year-old will also participate in an unspecified number of Friday practice sessions for the team.
Latifi was previously part of Renault’s young driver programme and tested for Mercedes last April. He finished fifth in Formula Two last year and scored a single victory in the reverse-grid race at Silverstone. It was his second season in the category which was previously called GP2.
“Nicholas joins us off the back of a strong season in F2 and strengthens our driver development programme,” said team co-owner Vijay Mallya. “We have a long track record of bringing on young talented drivers and Nicholas will learn a huge amount as he gets embedded in the team, and looks forward to a career in Formula One.”
Latifi said Force India has “shown constant improvement for the last few years and I’m proud to become a part of one of the success stories of Formula One.”
“I am eager to show the team what I can do and help them as they continue to close the gap to the front of the grid.”
Force India ran GP3 champion George Russell and Formula V8 3.5 racer Alfonso Celis Jnr in practice sessions last year. Nikita Mazepin also tested for the Silverstone-based team.
View the updated list of 2018 F1 drivers and teams
2018 F1 season
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- McLaren Racing losses rise after Honda split
- Ricciardo: Baku “s***show” was Red Bull’s fault
- “Drive to Survive Episode 1: All to Play For” reviewed
- F1’s television and social media audiences rose last year
9 comments on “Latifi to do Friday practice sessions for Force India”
5th January 2018, 12:13
Oh joy, another not-good-enough-but-really-rich driver getting time in a serious car in serious sessions. Poor George Russell.
5th January 2018, 19:35
@hahostolze, this would be the same George Russell who is being bankrolled by Mercedes, was given the opportunity to test Mercedes’s car in the mid season test in Hungary and has already driven for Force India in free practise sessions in 2017? I would hardly say “Poor George Russell” when it looks to me like he’s getting treated fairly well.
5th January 2018, 19:50
Exactly. Ollie Rowland has beaten this guy and looks very competent, even if he’s older and not as good as Leclerc. Then there’s Giovinazzi, who almost won GP2 in 2016 on his first shot, and along with Wehrlein is out of contention. Meanwhile, another first-time GP2 winner in Grosjean is rusting away in a back-marker team. Seems half the grid in Red Bull, Mclaren, Renault and FI are interested in getting the best drivers through, with the rest too preoccupied with who will bring the most money in to their team/is good for politics. The sport really needs to distribute a fairer share of prize money and introduce a strict budget control to stop the need for the “not-good-enough-but-really-rich driver”.
6th January 2018, 17:26
@reganama, Giovinazzi is not exactly out of contention given that that Ferrari were able to wrangle Friday practise drives out of Sauber (having pushed fairly heavily to have Ericsson replaced with him). Marchionne hasn’t exactly been subtle when he said “The agreement with Sauber is a way to find an outlet for the youngsters in our Driver Academy, and it will take take time to streamline this system.” – so it’s extremely likely that Ferrari will place him at Sauber for 2018 if they can.
As for Grosjean, if you’re referring to when he won his GP2 title, he didn’t win it in his first season, which was actually in 2008. He came 4th that year, losing out to Giorgio Pantano, Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi in that order (despite di Grassi missing the first third of that season) and only narrowly edging out Pastor Maldonado.
He was halfway through his second season in 2009 when he was called up to race for Renault, then he went back to GP2 after the team chose a Kubica-Petrov line up for 2010 (although he only took part in the latter part of the 2010 season). In terms of the number of races under his belt, his GP2 title came after what would effectively have been a third season for most drivers.
Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
6th January 2018, 13:10
If I say he’s probably (but not definitely) replacing sometime F3 driver Nikita Mazepin, does that help (in that while Force India reserve driver might not yet be as attractive a role as, say, Williams or Indycar racer, that the team is at least trying to improve its driver pool quality)?
5th January 2018, 12:19
Oh no, poor Alfonso!
5th January 2018, 12:38
I am happy if Force India gets some money from this. A small wonder of the grid, they definitely get the raw end of the deal in terms of prize money yet manage to punch above their weight every year. Let them hire a pay driver if it helps to sustain their success at the front.
5th January 2018, 12:39
Does this mean George Russell won’t be getting sessions in the car?
5th January 2018, 22:21
He doesn’t have enough points for a superlicense. I guess that “reserve driver” title is just that, a title.
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