Force India's chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer has admitted that the team is immensely impressed following George Russell's F1 weekend debut. The current GP3 champion drove the VJM10 during the first practice session in Sao Paulo.
Russell, who is a Mercedes junior driver, lapped the Interlagos Circuit 29 times on Friday morning, with his fastest time reading a 1:11.047. The Briton will drive again for Force India in two weeks' time in Abu Dhabi, with Szafnauer reporting that Russell did a very satisfying job.
"Very impressed. First time in the car, he did a really good job," Szafnauer told Reuters. "His feedback was good, he just didn’t really have enough time to start making some improvements on setup to his liking. Had we been able to do that, I think he would have been two to three tenths off Esteban."
Russell is set to take part in the Formula 2 championship in 2018, but Szafnauer hasn't ruled out the possibility of the 19-year-old continuing work with them next season - stating that the teenager is very much on Force India's radar.
"We’re definitely talking to him about doing some more with us next year. We’ll see how he goes in Abu Dhabi but I expect he’ll be as good as here, if not better because he’ll be used to the team and the car. And then next year, although he’ll be doing GP2, he’ll do some stuff with us. He’s definitely on our radar."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing