Force India development driver Nikita Mazepin has been handed the honour of running the VJM11’s Formula 1 test debut on the opening day of pre-season testing at Circuit de Catalunya.

While speculation remains rife about the team’s potential renaming to FORCE to aid its global sponsor appeal, and an official launch date yet to be confirmed, the Silverstone-based squad has become the first F1 squad to announce its driver line-up for testing.

Mazepin will debut the VJM11 on the opening day of pre-season testing at the Spanish circuit on February 26 with full-time drivers Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez only receiving one day each in the car during the first test. Ocon will drive for day two before handing over to teammate Perez for day three with new Force India test driver Nicholas Latifi handed the final day of the first test.

Force India reverts to a more familiar testing line-up for the second four-day test, between March 6-9, with Perez on driver duty on day one and three with Ocon in for day two and four. As is typical for F1 teams, the bulk of the first test will be used to check operating systems and iron out any initial issues with the new car before concentrating on notching up race mileage and focusing on set-up options.

Force India is expected to reveal its 2018 F1 car on the morning of the opening day of testing, with all four drivers present, launching alongside the new-look Toro Rosso Honda squad in the Circuit de Catalunya pitlane.



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