Artem Markelov will return to FIA Formula 2 on a permanent basis for 2020, linking up with new entrants HWA RACELAB, as a major sign of their intentions to compete towards the top end of the Championship.
The Russian returned on a temporary basis for his home event at Sochi in September, with the team HWA will replace, BWT Arden, and he is also set to take on the season finale at Yas Marina, Abu Dhabi.
The announcement of the 25-year-old marks the first driver confirmation for the new campaign, as we get our first insight into what the new grid may look like.
Markelov spent the 2019 campaign competing in Japanese Super Formula with UOMO Sunoco Team LeMans, and currently sits in 21st place, having competed in five of the seven rounds.
Discussing his decision to return, Markelov said: "I am really looking forward to racing for HWA RACELAB in Formula 2 next season. I think we will gel quickly. HWA has a vast wealth of motorsport experience, from which I am sure I will benefit."
Markelov is an experienced competitor at this level and finished second to now Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc in 2017, having made his debut back in 2014, in the then named GP2 series.
A firm favourite amongst fans, his tally of nine victories and eight podiums makes him one of the most successful drivers in the history of the Championship, and HWA will hope that his knowledge can help push them on in their debut season.
As well as his drive with BWT Arden, Markelov also competed for MP Motorsport at Monaco back in May, where he achieved sixth in the Feature Race and fourth in the Sprint.
HWA AG CEO Ulrich Fritz added: "Artem is the ideal driver for us in our first season as an independent team in Formula 2. He has lots of experience at this level. His tally of eight race wins speaks for itself. His expertise as a driver will help make our introduction to the series easier. I am pleased that we were able to acquire his services."