Former Force India development driver Nikita Mazepin will have an opportunity to boost his F1 experience this year thanks to a private testing programme set up association with Mercedes.
Mazepin - or rather his father, Belarus-born Russian businessman Dmitry Arkadievich Mazepin - is taking a leaf out Lance Stroll's book of how to become an F1 driver.
The Canadian benefited from a private testing programme with Williams before graduating to F1 in 2017, and Mazepin, a former GP3 winner who will take part in this year's FIA Formula 2 Championship, will follow a similar path with Mercedes.
Teams are forbidden from running current or the previous year's F1 machines outside of official pre-season and in-season testing sessions, and the traditional post-season tyre test.
However, the FIA allows for cars built two years prior to the current championship year to be run and tested at will, meaning that Mercedes will supply Mazepin with a 2017 W08 Silver Arrow - in strict 2017 specification - to allow the young Russian to accumulate mileage at various venues.
With regard to tyres, the 2017-spec car must run on rubber "manufactured specifically" for the purpose of the testing programme.
According to Motorsport.com, Mercedes' 2019 reserve driver Esteban Ocon will assist Mazepin in a coaching and advisory role.
In the past two season, Nikita Mazepin took part in several official tests with Force India, the Silverstone-based outfit sponsored at the time by Uralkali, a company in which the 19-year-old's father is a core shareholder.