Force India recruit an F1 development driver who will actually drive

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The role of the ‘development driver’ is one which is wide and varied in Formula One these days. Lotus signed in February this year the lovely – but non-F1 driving development driver – well known to viewers of the FOM TV race weekend coverage – Carmen Jorda. The even more low profile Adderly Fong was then added to the Enstone ‘driving’ ranks, though unlike Jorda, Fong has driven an F1 car when he completed 99 laps for Sauber at a test in Valencia in 2012.

Force India also recruited a relatively unknown ‘non-driving’ development driver this year by the name of Steven Goldstein, though at 31 years of age it would appear his opportunity to break into F1 following some GT car racing experience is in reality non-existant.

Today, Force India announce another development driver – though with a difference. Alfonso Celis is set to drive a Formula One car in the post season Abu Dhabi Pirelli test, along with seven free practice sessions in 2016. Celis is of Mexican origin and has raced in GP3 with a career high point of a third placed podium finish this year in Spa for ART.

The reason Celis will actually get to drive an F1 car is most probably down to the funds he brings from his father’s food empire, though Alfonso senior is no slouch on track. He has some racing pedigree with two wins in the 24 hours of Mexico on his CV

In a statement released by Force India, Celis says: “Ever since I started racing I’ve been dreaming of Formula 1, so it’s a huge honour to begin working with Sahara Force India. It’s an amazing opportunity for me to learn about F1 and to work closely with the engineers and race drivers.”

Being on the track in Abu Dhabi will be an incredible feeling. It’s going to be the biggest moment in my career and I am fully focussed on doing a good job for the team.”

Vijay Mallya declares, “It’s a fantastic opportunity for Alfonso to learn from Sergio and Nico, and to get valuable mileage in the car.”

Yet the young Mexican’s 2016 free practice sessions will clearly irritate either/or both Nico Hulkneberg and Sergio Perez, and the recruitment of Celis must raise doubts over whether Force India are about to receive any significant cash boost from new investors.

 

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8 responses to “Force India recruit an F1 development driver who will actually drive

  1. Completely unrelated topic but don’t know where to post it? There have already been several articles around about Rosberg and how he has the upper hand now. Does the Judge plan an article trying to explain this turn of fortunes?

  2. What a shame. Does he even qualify for a super license? He has never ended in a good position in any championship he has participated. He is just a pay driver, and while many say Perez and Gutierrez are too at least they are real drivers who bring sponsorship; this kid in the other hand is racing only because his father pays for it. His father, by the way, is suspected of obtaining the control of the company that pays for Celis Jr. seats illegally.

    • The big shame is that Ocon, his team-mate in GP3 who is leading the championship, wasn’t taken by SFI instead for FP1s alongside replacing Wehrlein in DTM next year. But Mercedes are only offering 3m for Wehrlein to Manor – so maybe there was nothing left for Ocon.

      • Yes, is totally unfair, Ocon leading the championship, Kirchhofer third and this guy 12th and gets a seat with a F1 team. And he is going to affect the performance of Nico or Sergio next year for nothing because there’s nothing there to believe he is going to be a successful driver.

        • I guess Nico probably won’t be too hindered – he did say recently that there’s too much practice time. Palmer driving most FP1s also hasn’t hindered Grosjean much either – I guess both he and Nico are now experienced enough that it doesn’t affect their pre-race set up. I’d be surprised if Checo is giving up his seat at any FP1s next year.

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