February 21, 2018 / 3:45 PM / 3 months ago

Russian Mazepin will debut new Force India F1 car

(Reuters) - Force India’s Russian development driver Nikita Mazepin will be first to drive the Formula One team’s new car when testing starts 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.

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 at the Circuit de Catalunya.

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.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris

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