Alfonso Celis Jr is to drive for Force India on both days of next week’s first in-season Formula 1 test in Barcelona.
Chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer concedes Celis needs seat time if he is to make the step up to F1, so has been afforded the opportunity of running for the two days at Circuit de Catalunya on May 17-18. The Mexican, racing with the AVF team in Formula V8 3.5, has already driven the VJM09 on two days of the first pre-season test, and in the first practice sessions in Bahrain and Russia.
“He’s a lovely lad who does exactly what he is told, which is good. Not every driver does that!” Szafnauer said. “And he provides good feedback.
“He’s on a steep bit of the learning curve at the moment as he needs seat time in an F1 car, and that is what he is getting. He’ll improve, but that will only come with seat time. F1 cars are a bit special. There is nothing in the junior formulae he has driven that is anywhere near.”
Szafnauer believes it is too early in Celis’ career to assess his pace, adding: “After the Barcelona test we’ll have a better idea. He did a good job in the winter, I think he was mid-pack at one point.
“For Fridays we have stressed to him not too push too hard, in particular in the early races, in case he goes off and prangs the car because in the early races no team has ample spares. So we’ve told him to take care of the car and we need feedback, and that’s what he has done, and that’s why I say he does exactly as he’s told.”
Renault and Williams juniors Esteban Ocon and Alex Lynn will also complete one day of the test each.