The 21-year-old Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne has been confirmed as the McLaren reserve driver for the 2014 season, while competing in GP2 with the ART team.
Vandoorne finished in second place - behind the McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen - in last season's World Series by Renault 3.5 Championship and was considered as Sergio Perez's replacement before the Dane was given the nod.
"I feel I'm making good progress towards my ultimate goal: Formula One," Vandoorne said.
"ART has won the GP2 series three times in the past - with Nico Rosberg in 2005, Lewis Hamilton in 2006, and Nico Hulkenberg in 2009.
"All three have gone on to become Formula One drivers; two of them, Lewis and Rosberg, have gone on to win grands prix, with Lewis going on to win a world championship.
"I'm definitely not making any predictions, and I'm certainly not under-estimating the drivers I'll be racing in GP2 this year, but I'll be aiming to win with ART, and I very much hope that success will help me on my way to Formula One."
McLaren sporting director Sam Michael was pleased with the team's decision to promote the Belgian driver, noting how popular the youngster is within the team.
"Stoffel is a truly excellent young driver - fast, combative, consistent, intelligent and ambitious," said Michael.
"His technical input is first class, he's excellent in our simulator, and he isn't afraid of hard work.
"He also has a collaborative and engaging manner, and he's therefore as popular at McLaren as he is helpful.
"He's also very quick indeed, so we expect him to do well in GP2 this season, and let's see what happens after that."