F1 Academy has officially secured a high-profile, trail-blazing newcomer for 2024 - and so has the Mercedes Formula 1 team.
French racer Doriane Pin, who turned 20 earlier this month, will make a long-awaited move into full-time single-seater racing as part of the all-female, F1-supporting championship.
F1 Academy's inaugural season was won by Marta Garcia, who raced for Prema - and it's the Italian junior single-seater giant that will field Pin in 2024.
Prema is very familiar with Pin, who already represented it in the (now-defunct) LMP2 class in the World Endurance Championship last year, with a 1000 Miles of Sebring podium the highlight.
"We were really impressed by her in our WEC campaign together and we are definitely looking forward to seeing her make even more progress in single-seaters. We think she has outstanding potential and that, with the support of the Mercedes-AMG F1 Team Junior Programme, she will be able to fully use it to continue making strides in F1 Academy too," said Prema boss Rene Rosin.
Pin has had an unconventional career out of karting, initially racing in the national Clio Cup and the one-make Ferrari Challenge Europe (which she won).
By then she'd already become part of the Iron Lynx/Iron Dames project fielding all-female line-ups on the international level - something that for Pin yielded a Spa 24 Hours class win in 2022.
But her pivot to single-seaters clearly has been in the works for some time. Pin ran a part-time schedule in F4 South East Asia late last year for her single-seater debut, and was both a race winner and narrowly the top scorer during her six-race stint.
Last weekend, she debuted in the much-higher-depth-of-field F4 United Arab Emirates series - featuring several of the likely stars of this year's international F4 season - and sits 10th in the standings after the opener.
In pivoting to open-wheels, she remains part of the Iron Dames project.
"Moving into single seater was a clear objective for my career, and to be in this environment is a great approach. I am working very hard to reach the top level of this sport and I cannot wait to go racing."
All 10 F1 teams have pledged to back a driver on the F1 Academy grid this year, and Pin thus represents Mercedes' entry into the series.
It also marks yet another chapter in Mercedes' increasingly close cooperation with Prema, which ran Frederik Vesti to the runner-up spot in Formula 2 last year and will field another Mercedes junior, the extremely highly-rated Andrea Kimi Antonelli, in F2 this year.
Gwen Lagrue, the chief of Mercedes' junior programme, says Mercedes "fully believes" Pin will be able to fight for the F1 Academy title in 2024.
"She is an incredibly exciting talent; her results in endurance racing highlight the promise she has and her first few races in single-seaters have been extremely encouraging."
And indeed, the current look of the grid suggests Pin will be very much among the pre-season favourites, with sometime British F4 and W Series standout Abbi Pulling, backed by Alpine, looking like her sternest competition of the five other drivers confirmed so far.