Pascal Wehrlein is now the front-runner to land a race seat at Manor, one of the only remaining drives in Formula 1, in the wake of Renault's swoop for Kevin Magnussen.
With Pastor Maldonado's sponsorship issues have cost him his seat at Renault, the French manufacturer has wasted little time in putting together a deal to bring Magnussen back to F1.
A final contract between Magnussen and Renault is due to be signed imminently, but enough of an agreement is in place for the Dane to be announced as an official Renault driver at its launch event in Paris on Wednesday.
Magnussen had also been talking to Manor, and his experience in F1 with McLaren was believed to have made him one of its preferred candidates for a 2016 campaign where it hopes to move up the grid.
But with Magnussen now out of the frame, sources have revealed that negotiations with Mercedes-backed Wehrlein have accelerated.
The team remains without a confirmed driver, despite the first pre-season test due to begin on February 22.
A source with good knowledge of the situation made it clear that although there were no guarantees yet, Wehrlein was '85 percent' down the line of getting a race deal in place.
Mercedes has been eager to secure Wehrlein an F1 seat on the back of his DTM success in 2015, but was well aware that the financial incentive it could offer for Manor to take him was less than the outfit could get from another driver on the open market.
But with Wehrlein's speed in no doubt – and other well-backed drivers in Alexander Rossi and Rio Haryanto being considered for the second seat – there is an increasing likelihood that the German will get the nod for one of the seats.
Mercedes' other junior, Esteban Ocon, is set for a role as Renault's reserve driver – and could twin that role with a DTM seat if Wehrlein moves on.
Additional reporting by Roberto Chinchero