Alfonso Celis Jr discussed his upcoming 2016 Formula V8 3.5 campaign while on a break from Friday practice duties with Force India in Bahrain three weeks ago.
Celis, who finished sixth for AVF in the first race at Aragon, described his aspirations for 2016 as he settles into his second season in the 3.5 litre category.
The Mexican was 16th in the standings last year but has been showing some strong pace alongside team mate Tom Dillmann since joining Force India, performances that he hopes will continue.
“My goal is to be in the top five and show some strong performance and podiums,” he said from the desert of Bahrain. “I hope to keep evolving as a driver and mature.”
Starting from sixth on the grid, and with a pit stop mandatory for race two, Celis Jr will look to climb up the field at the opening round from Aragon. Starting slightly further in front on the grid are the drivers he has put forward as among his nearest rivals including Egor Orudzhev, Louis Deletraz and stable mate Dillmann.
“In the top ten and the top five, there are some really good drivers,” he explained. “You can never tell in these championships with equal cars, you can never pick just one because there are some surprises.”
Despite his 19 years, the Mexican is a seasoned single-seater competitor. In addition to his 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 campaign, the Force India protégé has two GP3 seasons to his credit. However, with a Formula 1 team eagerly looking on, the pressure to succeed is perhaps the highest it has ever been.
“It is important I am in a car, so they will take it into account,” said the Mexican talent. “[Testing] went well, I was in the top five on the first and second day.”
Formula V8 3.5 race two begins at 13:40 CET with Dillmann, 12 years his senior, on pole. This weekend marks the first round of the inaugural FV8 season, the first since Renault parted ways with promoters RPM Racing.