With Lance Stroll likely to head to Racing Point Force India, there is an empty seat next to Sergey Sirotkin. Now, rumour has it that Williams F1 could soon have an all-Russian driver lineup.
Team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that the team expects to lose Lance Stroll. With his father Lawrence buying out Force India, a move for Lance may seem logical.
“Undoubtedly, at some point Lance will move from our team to Racing Point Force India, but so far there’s no certainty in that,” she said.
Responding to rumours that title sponsor Martini would be leaving as well, Williams denied it. She also refuted claims that the Stroll exit rings the death knell for the once-great team.
“Lawrence Stroll was not a major investor,” Williams insisted. “Williams existed in formula one 38 years before Lawrence joined us, and we’ll be here for many more years after he goes.”
However, Williams F1 are aware that sooner or later, they will have to replace Lance Stroll. The British team already has Russian driver Sergey Sirotkin, who is backed by SMP Bank.
Now, there are two other Russians who are in the fray for the second Williams seat. One option is Nikita Mazepin, whose father Dmitry is competing with Lawrence Stroll for the sale of Force India.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted that he has not spoken to Mazepin regarding the issue lately.
Meanwhile, the other Russian driver with heavy links to Williams is Artem Markelov. Markelov drives in Formula 2 for the Russian Time team. Like Mazepin, his father is also a wealthy investor linked to that team.
“I hope they (Williams) will pay attention to me and give me an opportunity. We’ll see,” Markelov said.
In the mean time, the Williams team has to worry about the next race of the 2018 season at Monza. What this also means is that Robert Kubica’s chance of a return to racing has hit a snag.