Saturday, 13 october 2018, 05:31 , by Matthew Scott
Esteban Ocon remains a candidate to race for Williams in 2019, despite the arrival of fellow Mercedes junior George Russell. Deputy team principal Claire Williams says the team "would be crazy" to not consider the Frenchman, who is set to lose his Force India seat in 2019.
Lance Stroll is set to leave Williams in order to join his father Lawrence at Force India after a £90million takeover earlier this year.
Ocon and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff have accepted that the Frenchman might have to spend 2019 on the sidelines from F1 – something seemingly made more likely by Russell's arrival.
Although retaining Sergey Sirotkin could land Williams $10m in sponsorship, with another well-backed Russian Artem Markelov and test driver Robert Kubica also under consideration, Williams says Ocon is also in their thoughts.
"We are still doing a lot of evaluation work," Williams told Sky Sports.
"It's a short short-list. We're very happy with the drivers we are evaluating and it will not take us a long time to make that final decision.
"Of course Esteban is in the mix. We would be crazy not to be looking at him."
Williams insists that Russell has been selected purely on talent, with the cash-strapped team seemingly not receiving financial favours from Mercedes.
"This doesn't enhance our racing budget, this was a decision purely based on the talent we know George has," she said.
"This is what this team needs - and this is a message of our intent.
"We need someone who we can build this team around. We need a galvanising force and George is going to be that for us.
"We wanted someone who would be with us for a number of years and who the team could get behind. That was a big factor in our decision-making.
"It's really exciting for us to bring in another new talent into Williams. We're a team renowned for that and this is our first British driver since Jenson [Button]. His racing pedigree speaks for itself. It's exciting for F1 to have another young talent on board and George is tipped to be a superstar of our sport in years to come."