Stroll on pole for Williams race seat in 2017
Williams development driver Lance Stroll has emerged as the clear favourite to replace Felipe Massa at the Grove-based team next year.
Several sources in the Monza paddock have indicated that the deal has already been agreed in principle – but the Canadian will first have to guarantee that he qualifies for a Formula 1 superlicence in 2017.
Stroll is currently leading the European F3 Championship with three weekends, and thus nine races, still to run.
Thanks to winning the Italian F4 title in 2014 and finishing fifth in European F3 last year, in theory he needs only to finish third this year to qualify for a superlicence. He becomes eligible for one after he turns 18 on October 29.
However there is an obvious desire for him to win the F3 title anyway and thus further justify his graduation to both the management and sponsors of Williams.
Stroll’s father Lawrence is an owner of the Prema GP2 outfit, and the original plan was for Lance to race for it next year.
However the feeling in the Stroll camp is that he has exceeded expectations this year and done enough in F3 to make the move straight to F1, and it would be better for him to continue his education at Williams rather than risk being beaten in GP2.
It was noted that in the wake of Massa's retirement, and growing indications that a deal with the young Canadian is close, that Lawrence Stroll was in Monza this weekend.
Stroll joined Williams in November 2015, having previously been a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy.
It is understood that Williams had initially been interested in signing Jenson Button as potential teammaate to Valtteri Bottas, but the talks did not advance far and the Briton is remaining at McLaren in a development role.
Force India option
Although Stroll is the favourite for the Williams drive, the other option that is being considered is Force India.
Sergio Perez's future has yet to be finalised, despite him having a contract for next year. The team remains in talks with the Mexican's backers to finalise a sponsorship package for next year.
If the outfit does lose Perez, then Stroll is an obvious candidate to move there as teammate to Nico Hulkenberg.
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