Antonio Giovinazzi, who Ferrari signed as its third driver for 2017, admits his nomination by the Scuderia came as a huge surprise despite his remarkable GP2 credentials.
The young Italian started his year as a GP2 rookie with the Prema Powerteam alongside Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly, but ended his campaign with a runner-up spot in the ultra-competitive series and five race wins under his belt.
Ferrari evidently had its eye on the 23-year-old young charger as it offered Giovinazzi a run in its factory simulator after this year's Italian Grand Prix, an opportunity which the Italian made the most of apparently.
"The test on the simulator after the Italian Grand Prix made believe there was a chance, a glimmer of hope," Giovinazzi told Motorsport.com.
"I hoped that some F1 teams would show interest in what I had been doing in GP2, but to know Ferrari was really interested to meet me was a big surprise. Then there was a second call, and there things were finalised."
Giovinazzi will be honing his skills and helping Ferrari's development program with simulator work over the winter, but he'll also enjoy the status of official reserve driver with the Scuderia.
"Right now my job is to do testing work on the simulator and make sure I am ready [as a stand-in] in case there is a need. I know that it won’t be pleasant to see the other drivers race while I am sat in the pits.
"But for me Formula 1 is a new world, and I will make the most of this opportunity to learn as much as possible by being in contact with Ferrari's technical staff and familiarising myself with the whole environment.
"And then I hope to be on track in 2018."
Things could actually move even faster for Giovinazzi as it's likely Ferrari will push its new protege towards engine-customer team Sauber for a few practice outings next year.