Williams driver Lance Stroll is reportedly set to join Force India as early as the Belgian Grand Prix. This in turn will spark a massive game of musical chairs which will ultimately result in a loser. Now, if rumours are to be believed, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne could be the ultimate casualty. Sources suggest that Stroll could take Esteban Ocon’s place and the Frenchman could replace Vandoorne at Spa-Francorchamps.
The switch also raises the question as to who will take Stroll’s place. The answer could lie with fan favourite driver Robert Kubica. It makes sense to have the Pole fill Stroll’s shoes at Williams as he is the reserve driver. Seeing him return to a grand prix drive for the first time since suffering life-altering injuries in a 2011 rally crash is truly heartwarming.
Stroll has been widely expected to join Force India after his billionaire father Lawrence fronted a consortium that bought out the financially crippled team last week.
However, it now appears that the advice of fellow Canadian Jacques Villeneuve may be heeded and the teenager is in line to make an immediate switch, with Williams offering little to no chance of improvement through the remainder of the campaign.
As Stroll begins to flex his muscles at Force India, it would have a knock-on for Ocon, but his status as a Mercedes junior is likely to save him, as the Silver Arrows look to protect their most promising prospect.
A swap with Stroll is one option, with Mercedes supplying power units to Williams, but the bottom team’s struggles in 2018 could put off the Silver Arrows as they look to mould Ocon into a potential race-winner.
Although McLaren have failed to live up to their promises after swapping Honda engines for Renault, a spell alongside a world champion like Fernando Alonso would offer Mercedes a good barometer of Ocon’s ability – as well as offering the Frenchman a potential 2019 drive after a switch to Renault was blocked by the signing of Daniel Ricciardo.
Other drivers who are embroiled in this are Carlos Sainz, who could have moved to Red Bull. However, a certain obstacle called Max Verstappen stands in his way. Even McLaren junior Lando Norris has been tipped for a seat at Toro Rosso to possibly replace Brendon Hartley.
It would leave Vandoorne on the scrapheap, with McLaren having reportedly grown impatient with him after being outqualified in all 12 races by Alonso so far this season.