The Marussia Virgin Racing F1 team has announced it is to support the new karting category, Formula KGP this season.

The outfit plans to use the 'collaboration' as the 'foundation of its young driver programme', the first stepping stone for exceptional young karters to progress all the way through to F1.

"Karting is the beginning of a long but ultimately very rewarding journey. I believe very strongly in nurturing the talent of tomorrow and providing opportunities for drivers to move through the ranks," said team principal, John Booth. "It's not an easy progression, so if the talent is there, it should be supported.

"As a team, we have to think today about the drivers of tomorrow and that means ensuring there is a rich pool of talent to draw from further down the line."

At the end of the season, the top three drivers and one 'wild card' - a driver who has demonstrated outstanding ability in the new Formula KGP Championship irrespective of points placings - will win a Formula Renault test. To underline its support for the category, the Marussia Virgin Racing logo will also appear on the karts, drivers' suits and helmets.

"Formula KGP is delighted to form this collaboration with Marussia Virgin Racing," added Andy Cox, managing director of Formula KGP. "Karting is a crucial step in the development of a driver; perhaps in many ways it could be the very discipline that defines a driver for the future.

"With this collaboration, karting connects directly with a F1 team and an entire grid can race under the gentle eye of Marussia Virgin Racing, with such an innovative approach, a future talent could be discovered. With a test drive in Formula Renault at the end of the season, I can't think of a better situation for a driver to showcase their talent to a F1 team."

The launch of the new seven-round Formula KGP National Karting Championship, which joins the Super 1 Series, will take place this Saturday at the PF International Kart track in Lincolnshire.

A show kart, complete with the Marussia Virgin Racing colours and team logo, will be presented and the F1 team's driver Jerome D'Ambrosio will conduct some demonstration laps.