It was announced earlier this week that GP3 driver Alfonso Celis has joined Force India as their development driver, a role that will see him take part in seven practice sessions next season.
Aside from the Friday outings of which seven of which have been scheduled for him; the 19-year-old GP3 and Formula 3.5 driver will also spend time on the simulator at the team’s Silverstone factory.
Celis will make his debut later this year as the Mexican driver is scheduled to test the VJM08 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi outing where he will share driving duties along with Nico Hulkenberg.
In his interview with the media earlier this week, Celis stated the following about signing with the Force India team as follows:-
‘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. 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.’
It is clear that Celis is happy to have secured this opportunity with the Force India and understands that it is an opportunity not only to develop as a driver but also to gain experience in Formula One that could help him get into the sport in the near future and wants to do the best job he can for the team straight away.
In his own interview with the media, Force India Team principal Vijay Mallya believes Force India is the right training ground for the teenager. Mallya stated the following:-
‘I would like to welcome Alfonso to the team and wish him well ahead of his debut with us in Abu Dhabi. 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.’
From what Mallya has stated in his interview, he believes that Celis is the right driver for the job and believes that he and the team can help him not only develop as a driver but also provide him with the environment to do so. And Mallya does have a point; they helped Jules Bianchi, they helped Paul di Resta and they got into the sport, maybe the same could happen for Celis; provided that he works as hard as possible and grabs the opportunity with both hands.
I wish Celis the best of luck on his debut with Force India and I look forward to seeing how he performs on the track.