Tyre maker Pirelli has announced a special prize fund of 200,000 Euros that will go to the GP3 champion - provided he secures a seat in GP2 for 2013.
"It's always been Pirelli's philosophy and one of its goals to help young promising drivers to reach the top of motorsport," said Pirelli Racing Manager Mario Isola. "This prize fund of 200,000 Euros is part of this: we want to accompany a talented driver from GP3 to GP2, the two series which are the natural path to F1."
The prize should help ensure that this year's GP3 champion is eagerly sought after by GP2 teams at the end of the year.
As part of the initiative, the GP3 champion will also be offered the chance to take part in a development test session in the GP2 Series car during the 2012-2013 winter off-season, to make sure that he has a chance to show his abilities off to prospective employers.
"I would like to thank Pirelli for their generous offer of a 200,000 Euros Prize Fund to the 2012 GP3 Series Champion," said GP2 and GP3 Series CEO Bruno Michel. "This is fantastic news for all of our young drivers, who will get a great motivation boost out of Pirelli's Prize Fund, as they pursue their goal to be successful and make it in F1."
Last season, Pirelli offered a special one-off cash prize to the top two GP3 drivers competing in the post-season GP2 Final non-championship event at Abu Dhabi in November, which saw James Calado receive Pirelli's top prize of 15,000 Euros and Tom Dillmann claim the second prize of 10,000 Euros.
"We've enjoyed a healthy and fruitful relationship with the GP2 Series organisation since the beginning of our collaboration back in 2009, said Isola. "Our decision to reward next season's GP3 Series Champion is part of what we're trying to achieve together: bring the best young talents to F1."
Michel confirmed that "The [GP3] winner will qualify for this fund only if he steps up to GP2 in 2013," as well as the offer to the series champion to take part in one of the GP2 Series' development tests next winter.
The GP3 Series was launched in 2010, and the first series champion was Mexico's Esteban Gutiérrez who graduated to Lotus ART in 2011 for his rookie season in GP2.
The 2011 GP3 champion was Williams F1 test driver Valtteri Bottas, who currently looks set to concentrate on his F1 development duties in 2012 and forego the chance to graduate to GP2. Last year's GP3 runner-up, James Calado, has already signed a full-season deal to race alongside Gutiérrez for the newly-rechristened Lotus GP team.
Other 2011 GP3 drivers moving up to this year's feeder series include Nigel Melker (signed up by Ocean Racing Technology) and Simon Trummer (by Arden International), while Fabio Onidi is stepping up from Auto GP to race with Scuderia Coloni.