FIA Formula 2 Champion Felipe Drugovich has become the first member of Aston Martin F1's driver development programme and the Silverstone-based outfit's reserve driver.
Drugovich was crowned Formula 2 champion on Saturday at Monza, and in the wake of the Brazilian's title win there was speculation of an F1 link up with Aston Martin.
That association, along with the initiation of Aston's driver development programme, has now been formalized by Lawrence Stroll's F1 team.
"I am hugely proud to have inaugurated the AMF1 Driver Development Programme: I am a big believer in rewarding young talent, and this is a fantastic way to help develop the next generation of racing drivers," commented Stroll.
"We have watched and admired Felipe's path to success in Formula 2 this year, and we aim to provide him with all the skills and experience necessary to be able to take the next step in his career.
"In the fullness of time, it would be the ultimate validation if he were to become a Formula One driver, joining the great pantheon of Brazilian racing drivers such as Emerson Fittipaldi and Ayrton Senna."
Drugovich will be in action with Aston Martin in FP1 at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - substituting for Lance Stroll - as well as in F1's young driver test at Yas Marina in late November.
The 2022 F2 champion's deal with Aston Martin caps off a remarkable season for the 22-year-old Brazilian.
"Becoming a member of the AMF1 Driver Development Programme is a fantastic opportunity for me – and only adds to what has been an extremely enjoyable and successful 2022 season," he said.
"Winning in Formula 2 has long been regarded as the best possible launchpad into a career in Formula One, and I see my role at AMF1 as giving me all the tools to take that crucial next step.
"For me, 2023 will be a learning curve: I will be working with the F1 team, but my primary goal is to learn and develop as a driver.
"I hope that will give me an opportunity to race in Formula One in the future."
AMF1 Team Principal Mike Krack said: "Felipe has shown incredible talent, determination, and consistency to win this year's FIA Formula 2 Championship – I particularly remember his fantastic Sprint and Feature victories at Barcelona in May, which were hugely impressive.
"We are delighted that he is joining us as a member of our Driver Development Programme, and we look forward to welcoming him as part of our team in Abu Dhabi this November."