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Nikita Mazepin

Mazepin will debut new Force India F1 car

Nikita Mazepin

Force India’s Russian development driver Nikita Mazepin will be first to drive the Formula 1 team’s new car – the VJM11 – when testing starts at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona next Monday.

Force India published its schedule on Wednesday, with race drivers Frenchman Esteban Ocon and Mexican Sergio Perez taking over for the following two days before handing over to Canadian reserve Nicholas Latifi on Thursday.

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While most other teams will have unveiled new cars ahead of the weekend, Force India will roll out theirs shortly before the pit lane opens for testing in Spain on Monday morning.

They released the schedule on Twitter:

The Mercedes-powered team, who have finished fourth overall for the past two seasons, have also been mulling a name change and there has been renewed speculation in the media about a possible change of ownership.

Force India are run and co-owned by Indian tycoon Vijay Mallya, who is fighting an Indian government request to extradite him from Britain to face fraud charges related to the collapse of his Kingfisher Airlines.

Mallya, who has not left Britain since March 2016, has said a name change would make the team more attractive to potential sponsors.