Force India has signed Alfonso Celis Jr as a development driver, with the 19-year-old joining up with the team for his debut outing in a Formula 1 car at the Abu Dhabi test after the final race of the season.
The young Mexican driver has spent the year racing in both the GP3 and FR3.5 championships with ART Grand Prix and AVF respectively and has caught the eye of the Silverstone-based squad.
Celis will work with Force India on its simulator at the team's base as well as taking part in 'several official practice sessions' during race weekends.
Celis, who will work alongside Nico Hulkenberg at the Abu Dhabi post-season F1 test, says it is a dream come true to secure a role with the team.
“Ever since I started racing I've been dreaming of Formula One, so it's a huge honour to begin working with Sahara Force India,” Celis said. “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. It's going to be the biggest moment in my career and I am fully focussed on doing a good job for the team.”
Force India team principal Vijay Mallya has given the young driver a warm welcome and hopes his team can prepare him for the demands of racing in Formula 1.
“I would like to welcome Alfonso to the team and wish him well ahead of his debut with us in Abu Dhabi,” Mallya said. “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. It's a fantastic opportunity for Alfonso to learn from Sergio and Nico, and to get valuable mileage in the car.”
Celis is currently competing in the penultimate round of the GP3 Series championship in Bahrain, and on Thursday (19th November) qualified 14th on the grid for the opening race.