IndyCar star Simona De Silvestro has joined Sauber as an affiliated driver, with the aim of entering Formula One in 2015, the team announced on Friday.
The 25-year-old from Switzerland moved to the United States in 2006 and has been driving in the IndyCar series for the last four years, winning the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award in 2010 and becoming the first woman to earn a podium finish on a street circuit in the sport.
"After four years in IndyCar, Simona's ambition is to enter Formula one in 2015," said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn.
"We regard her as a very talented race driver, and we, therefore, decided to take her on board as an 'affiliated driver' and support her on her way to the pinnacle of motorsport."
While Adrian Sutil of Germany and Mexico's Esteban Gutierrez line up for Sauber this season, De Silvestro will spend the coming year participating in track testing and simulator training to prepare for the step up to F1.
"This is a major step towards me achieving a life-long dream and I'm so happy to have the opportunity to take this step with such a great team," she said.
"The Sauber F1 Team is a team with a legacy and the only Swiss team in Formula One, which I think makes this even more exciting."
One of the few women to come close to the pinnacle of the sport in recent years was Spanish test driver Maria de Villota.
The daughter of former F1 racer Emilio de Villota, she lost her right eye and suffered a fractured skull in a crash while testing in England in July 2012, and died last October at the age of 33.