This year’s GP2 runner-up Antonio Giovinazzi has been confirmed as the Ferrari F1 team’s third driver for the 2017 season.
The 22-year-old graduated from Formula 3 to GP2 for 2016 with newcomers Prema Racing, taking five victories.
He almost became the first rookie GP2 champion since Nico Hulkenberg in 2009, but lost out to Red Bull junior and Prema team-mate Pierre Gasly.
Giovinazzi previously had no link to an F1 team but did spent a day at Ferrari’s simulator earlier in the season, hinting at a possible tie-up.
Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne said at Ferrari’s pre-Christmas media lunch that Giovinazzi will join the team as a third driver for 2017.
“We have not hired Giovinazzi to emulate Max Verstappen, who is a unique case,” he is quoted saying by La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We hired him because he is a very good driver and Ferrari need young people ready to go.”
Giovinazzi has yet to announce his full-time racing plans for 2017, but he did take part in the post-season GP2 test in Abu Dhabi.
Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said the Italian will start a simulator programme in January and is expected to try the 2017 F1 car during mid-season testing.