Sakon Yamamoto will be Marussia Virgin Racing's reserve driver for the first three races of the 2011 season, the team announced on Wednesday.
The 28-year-old Japanese, who last raced in Formula 1 last year with the Hispania team, is not expected to get behind the wheel unless he has to replace one of the racing drivers during the Australian, Malaysia or Chinese Grands Prix.
"I am pleased to work with Marussia Virgin Racing in Australia," said Yamamoto. "I really appreciate them giving me a chance to be here. The team has made a big step forward this year and I believe that I can contribute to their car development through my experience.
"As everyone is aware, it is a very difficult time in Japan right now and any good news is much welcomed. I hope the people back home will feel positive about my latest F1 role as I would like to do everything possible to help them."
Team boss John Booth added: "We are delighted to welcome Sakon Yamamoto to Virgin Racing as our reserve driver for the first three race weekends. Sakon will spend the weekends observing the race drivers and attending all engineering meetings to ensure he is up to speed should there be an occasion where a last-minute substitution is required.
"In keeping with our commitment to nurture young talent, our reserve driver strategy is to help a number of drivers gain hard-to-come-by track time and so we will be operating a roster featuring a number of racers we are interested in evaluating during the forthcoming season."