Force India gives Mercedes junior George Russell FP1 runs in Brazil & Abu Dhabi
Force India has announced that Mercedes junior and 2017 GP3 Series champion George Russell will get two FP1 outings with the outfit in Brazil and Abu Dhabi.
The British driver will make his official grand prix weekend debut in Brazil replacing Sergio Perez, while he will drive in place of Esteban Ocon in Abu Dhabi.
"I’m extremely excited to be driving in free practice for Sahara Force India in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. 2017 has already been a year full of great opportunities and to top off the season with these two outings feels fantastic," he said.
"I’ve never driven the VJM10 before or driven at Interlagos, but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to Sahara Force India for this opportunity and also thank Mercedes for their continued support.”
This will be the 19-year-old's first run in the Force India's VJM10 as he alluded to, after having driven the Mercedes W08 already in Hungary this season.
Earlier in the day, Force India team boss Vijay Mallya had indicated trying out different drivers to gather more information for the 2018 season - which was termed as an aggressive approach for the remaining races, with fourth place secured already.
"We are happy to give George this opportunity. He’s an up-and-coming talent and we’ve followed his success in GP3 closely. George has already been in our simulator several times and has worked well with the team," said Mallya.
"Now that we have secured fourth place in the championship, it’s the ideal time to look to the future and handing George his free practice debut will allow us to evaluate his potential.”
Russell has been a dominant force in only his first season in GP3, having clinched the title with a round to spare - claiming four wins and two podiums.