Mercedes’ Russell gets Force India FP1 runs

Valentin Khorounzhiy
This article first appeared on autosport.com

Newly-crowned GP3 champion George Russell will make his Formula 1 grand prix weekend debut in Friday’s opening practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Russell, a Mercedes F1 protege, will drive the Force India VJM10 of team regular Sergio Perez in FP1 at Interlagos.

He will then get a second Force India FP1 run-out ahead of the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi, taking over from fellow Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon.

“I’m extremely excited to be driving in free practice for Force India in Brazil and Abu Dhabi,” said Russell, who won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Award and British F4 championship in 2014.

“This year has already been a year full of great opportunities and to top off the season with these two outings feels fantastic.

“I’ve never driven the VJM10 before or driven at Interlagos, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

“I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Force India for this opportunity and also thank Mercedes for their continued support.”

Russell clinched the 2017 GP3 title with a round to spare in October.

The 19-year-old Brit, who drove the Mercedes F1 car in the post-Hungarian GP test, is expected to graduate to F2 next year.

“We are happy to give George this opportunity,” said Force India boss Vijay Mallya.

“He’s an up-and-coming talent and we’ve followed his success in GP3 closely.

“George has already been in our simulator several times and has worked well with the team.

“Now that we have secured fourth place in the championship, it’s the ideal time to look to the future and handing George his free practice debut will allow us to evaluate his potential.”

Force India wrapped up a second consecutive fourth-place finish in the F1 constructors’ standings last time out in Mexico.

Despite several on-track clashes between team mainstay Perez and newcomer Ocon, the Silverstone-based outfit will retain the same line-up for the 2018 campaign.

 
 
 
 

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