Force India test driver Nikita Mazepin has kept his place in the Hitech GP team fold for a second FIA European Formula 3 campaign.

The Russian teenager ended a difficult rookie Euro F3 season 20th in the overall drivers' standings with just four points finishes to his name.

Mazepin hit the headlines when he was handed a one-race ban in Hungary for a 'physical altercation' in the Hungaroring paddock but both the team and the 17-year-old were able to move on after the incident.

Despite a tricky rookie year Mazepin is relishing the prospect of building on that experience to launch himself up the Euro F3 grid in 2017.

"I had a good first season in Formula 3", Mazepin said. "Of course, it was a steep learning curve as it was only my second full season in car racing.

"I managed to show at certain points, particularly Spa, Paul Ricard and Hockenheim, where I had my first rookie podium, that I have the potential to make the step up next year to fight at the front. This is the target."

Mazepin drove for Force India at the second F1 in-season test at Silverstone last July but it is not yet known whether the Russian driver will be retained in the team's junior programme for next year.

Mazepin joins alongside the already-announced Ralf Aron, who has switched from Prema to HitechGP for 2017, with the British team's third driver expected to be announced in the coming weeks.

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