Vodafone McLaren Mercedes has added teenager Tom Blomqvist, the son of 1984 World Rally champion Stig, to the select group of youngsters on its Driver Development Programme.

The 18-year old Blomqvist has made outstanding progress since graduating from karting in 2009, becoming the youngest driver to win the Formula Renault UK Championship in 2010, a feat which earned him the British Racing Drivers' Club's Henry Surtees Award for the most outstanding performance by a young racer.

Carrying that race-winning form into Germany's F3 Cup for 2011, Blomqvist was shortlisted for the highly prized McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, despite having his season curtailed by a back injury several rounds before the end of the year.

As part of the McLaren Driver Development Programme, Blomqvist will benefit from a wealth of personalised guidance in the off-track skills demanded by his craft, as well as building on his racing performances as he climbs the motorsport ladder.

"I'm thrilled to get this opportunity with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," Blomqvist admitted, "The competition gets fiercer every time you step up a category, and having this level of support will really improve my strength and confidence."

Blomqvist's signing comes just days after Kevin Magnussen, the son of former F1 and current sportscar ace Jan, was added to the McLaren scheme, and team principal Martin Whitmarsh is excited by the new prospects.

"Tom is rightly considered to be a very bright prospect in single-seater racing, as demonstrated by his presence in the shortlist of finalists for the 2011 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award, the ultimate accolade for young drivers and a programme which McLaren has had the pleasure of supporting for more than two decades," he noted.

"On-track results are the ultimate measurements of a driver's merit and, in this regard, Tom is already delivering on his potential. As a winner of the Formula Renault Championship, he's following in the footsteps of Lewis Hamilton, who passed this career milestone just three years before graduating to F1 with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

"We're therefore watching Tom's progress with great interest."

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