Toto Wolff has admitted that Esteban Ocon's chances at a Williams drive for 2019 are not looking great. The Frenchman is in the frame for a seat at the Grove squad as he is set to be ousted at Force India by current Williams driver Lance Stroll.
Williams has already confirmed that Mercedes junior George Russell will fill one of its seats for the 2019 season. However, it has stated that it needs to consider the financial aspect when hiring its second driver. Ocon, Robert Kubica and Sergey Sirotkin are believed to be the nominated parties.
But Wolff has indicated that Ocon is unlikely to sign the deal: "I think the chances for next year are pretty grim,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1. “That hasn’t changed really for the last two months and we are already thinking about 2020. He is going to be involved in all our development in the Mercedes car and then we will see where he ends up.”
“That has been one of the considerations," he said when asked if it would be better to have Ocon sit out of racing next year rather than drive for a less competitive team. "We need to balance it. On the one side you want him to stay sharp and race, and maybe help a car that is not performing so well. But on the other side he can do a really good support job on the Mercedes also.”
Speaking about Russell's future, Wolff said: "George’s plan is to very much stay long term with Williams and help the team come back. He is on a multi-year contract and knows that very well. For Esteban it is a completely different ball game and it is probably better for him to sit one year out and come back in a strong car.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing