Red Bull have sprung a surprise by naming Sebastien Buemi, who was dropped from feeder team Toro Rosso, as reserve driver for their senior team.
The Swiss will provide back-up for Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
Team principal Christian Horner claimed that Buemi's knowledge of Red Bull and three years of Formula 1 experience made the move "logical".
Buemi, 23, said: "I would prefer to be driving at the races, of course, but this is the next best thing."
Red Bull's Constructors' Championship finishes
Later on Thursday, Toro Rosso announced that Buemi would effectively be their reserve driver in 2012 as well.
A statement said: "Although our sister team in Milton Keynes will be the Swiss driver's top priority, if for any reason Scuderia Toro Rosso found itself short of a driver at a grand prix, then Sebastien would step into the cockpit for us."
Horner said Buemi would "complete important test and simulation work for us throughout the year and will be in attendance at each grand prix".
At the end of 2011,
Red Bull sacked Buemi and team-mate Jaime Alguersuari from Toro Rosso
, whose role is to nurture drivers who can one day step up to race for the senior team.
They have been replaced by Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne, who are competing to prove that they are worthy of the chance to step up to Red Bull in 2013 alongside double world champion Vettel, if Webber moves on or retires.
It had been thought that Buemi and Alguersuari had been abandoned by Red Bull, in the manner of several other drivers who have made it into F1 through its junior programme.
The decision to keep Buemi in the Red Bull family suggests that they believe he still has potential they can exploit.
The future of Alguersuari, who finshed one place and 11 points ahead of Buemi in the world championship last year, remains uncertain.
The 21-year-old has been tipped as a contender to take the vacant drive at the back-of-the-grid Spanish HRT team, alongside veteran Pedro de la Rosa.