Max Chilton has become Formula 1's fourth British driver after signing to drive for Marussia next season, it has been confirmed.
The move was
Chilton, 21, was the team's reserve driver and impressed bosses with his speed and ability to set up the car.
"It's hard to put into words how I'm feeling today," Chilton said. "It comes at the end of what has been a fantastic year for me."
Chilton joins fellow British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, who drive for Mercedes and McLaren respectively, and Force India's Paul di Resta in the sport.
Last month Frenchman
Chilton, who finished fourth with two victories in the GP2 series in 2012, will partner experienced German Timo Glock at Marussia.
The Reigate-born driver had his first experience of an F1 car on a race track when he at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in October.
That followed a 'straight-line' aerodynamic test earlier in the year.
"I am very fortunate to have spent the last six races with the Marussia F1 Team as reserve driver, which means that instead of a standing start, I am already up to speed and at ease with the people, the culture, the systems and of course, the 2012 package", Chilton said.
"Pre-season testing is just a few weeks away, so my focus now is to continue my physical preparation whilst spending as much time as possible working with the technical team to help develop the car I will drive in my debut F1 season."
Marussia finished 11th in the constructors' championship in 2012, losing out on 10th place at the final race of the season in Brazil to Caterham - but having struggled in their first two seasons in 2010 and 2011, closing the gap on Caterham represented conspicuous progress for the Banbury-based team.
Team principal John Booth said: "We felt confident enough in his ability and potential to appoint him to the role of reserve driver in September and since that time his development has been rapid in all aspects.
"First and foremost, he has shown himself to be extremely capable in the car. Most recently, in Abu Dhabi, he was put to the test in a competitive environment which included providing him with an opportunity to demonstrate his outright pace and consistency over a single lap.
"Not only that, Max very quickly embedded himself within the team, thanks in no small part to the fact that he is a lively and affable character who we've enjoyed having around."