Sergey Sirotkin says his plan to return to the F1 grid in 2020 is on track.
The Russian, ousted by Williams at the end of 2018, has re-joined Renault as the reserve driver for 2019.
"I already worked on this team in 2017, so I know the management, the engineers and the mechanics already," Sirotkin told Russia's Championat.
"Yes I am the backup driver, but that does not mean a step backwards. I regard this as another way to achieve my goal."
The 23-year-old remains the top driver in the so-called SMP Racing programme, headed by billionaire Boris Rothenberg, founder of SMP Bank.
"We have decided that in 2019 Sergey will return to the Renault team," Rothenberg said.
"The main competition this year for Sergey is the world endurance championship, but in parallel he will return to formula one as a backup driver.
"We expect that Sergey will maximise his potential in the WEC, and will also be ready for the possibility of returning to formula one in the future," the billionaire added.