Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer has suggested Esteban Ocon could be offered a deal as the team's third driver in 2019. Ocon is set to lose his race seat at Force India next year as Lance Stroll prepares to follow father Lawrence to the team after the Canadian businessman's takeover.
Stroll had been linked with a mid-season switch to Force India, although it appears increasingly likely that the move will happen in the close-season.
Sergio Perez has spoken of his confidence that he will be on the grid in 2019 – likely with Force India.
Ocon is a Mercedes junior driver and failed talks with Renault and Force India have enraged Silver Arrows chief Toto Wolff, but the Frenchman could be offered an olive branch by his current employers.
Asked if Ocon could be offered simulator and testing duties, Szafnauer said: "That could happen.
"None of that's decided, but if you're doing simulator work the only way to really develop the simulator and the car is to be in the car every once in a while, because you're actually simulating the car.
"You need to be current, otherwise your usefulness as a simulator driver decreases.
"My personal opinion is if he doesn't find one for next year, but there's a good opportunity in F1 for the following year, I would not do another racing series.
"But I don't advise him on that, he has other people, that's just my opinion."
Even if Ocon does spend 2019 without a race drive in F1, Szafnauer does not expect it to have a negative impact on his career in the series.
"Hopefully he'll find something else," said Szafnauer. "But we'll help him, he's very good.
"You bide your time for a year. How long was Raikkonen out? Two years? He came back and still did well. He's young enough and talented enough."
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