Brazilian driver Felipe Massa had an emotional farewell in Brazil in 2016 after he announced his retirement. Howeverhis retirement did not last long. He was called back to replace a departing Valtteri Bottas. Rookie driver Lance Stroll joined the veteran in the Williams ranks this season. With Stroll confirmed for another year, the question was, who will be alongside him? A number of names were thrown in the mix along with Massa’s. Paul Di Resta and Robert Kubica were the earliest candidates in line for the second Williams seat.
Another name that has ben thrown in the mix is current Sauber driver Pascal Wehrlein. The 24-year old German was axed from the Hinwil team for the 2018 season. But Mercedes may gun for Williams to sign him up in 2018. It does make sense for Mercedes to try and promote Pascal up the order since he is a Mercedes junior driver and Mercedes provides engines to Williams. Yet another surprising contender is the out of favour Russian, Daniil Kvyat. Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe revealed that Kvyat has joined the list of drivers under consideration for a 2018 Formula One seat with the team.
Much before this announcement, Massa himself was keen to carry on for another season. What suddenly changed the dynamic, remains a mystery. With Massa out of the frame, the contestants for “Williams Next Top Driver” is down to 4. Kubica and Di Resta have already conducted a number of test runs for the Grove team. They turned out some promising results. Di Resta last raced in 2013 before stepping in in Hungary when Massa called in sick. Kubica last raced in F1 in 2010. How will this game of musical chairs pan out? I guess we shall find out in 2018.