Who would YOU put in the Williams seat?
Now that we know there is definitely a spare seat at Williams, it's time to decide who should get the drive!
So, there has been chat for months now that Williams are exploring their options for 2018. They haven't even tried to hide it, confirming that there have been running tests with at least two other drivers in the 2014 car to evaluate their performance.
With Lawrence Stroll all but bank rolling Williams, Lance's place never looked in any doubt and, to be fair, the kid's doing alright! So the other side of the garage could be set for a shake up, but there was always the possibility that they would take the safe route and stick with old hand, Felipe Massa.
That was until Massa pulled the plug himself, announcing that this would be his last season in the sport .
So with no safe route, there's a gap that needs to be filled an we want you to decide who should get the seat! Here are the contenders (in a not at all Michael Buffer type announcement!)
The hype around Kubica's return to the sport has been very real. For a long time he looked like a certainty to take Palmers seat at Renault, with the team evaluating him in the car at a private test in Valencia and again in the Hungary test. That was until Sainz put himself on the market and they snapped him up leaving the Pole out in the cold.
He took on Nico Rosberg as part of his management team and quickly cut his ties with Renault, leading many to believe there was something else in the pipeline and it wasn't long before the spotlight turned to Williams. They've made no secret of the fact that they are now testing him in the car, but is this all just for the media? Many believe this would be a 'heart over head' choice and that he would be there as a publicity stunt. He was rapid, make no mistake, so is he worth a shot?
Paul Di Resta
PDR is the Williams test and reserve driver, he knows how the team work and has done countless hours in their simulator. He also had his moment to shine in Hungary when Massa was ill and he had to jump in the car *one hour* before qualifying! No, he didn't set the world alight, but at that short notice, he didn't do too badly and it has certainly got people talking.
The Brit currently drives for Mercedes in DTM but with them pulling out of the championship at the end of next year, he has has taken every opportunity to put himself in the shop window. Williams ran him in a back to back test alongside Kubica, so they are obviously considering him. Could he be the next safest option and did his time at Force India really put him on the map?
Wehrlein was once Mercedes' up and comer. He joined Manor as DTM World Champ and they were talking him up as if it was only a matter of time before he was conquering the grid. Unfortunately, that hasn't materialised and he has gone from being at the slowest of the back markers, to being at the slowest of the back markers. His progress has been largely blocked by Esteban Ocon, a Merc youngster who is actually going places, taking it to Checo in the Force India. This, along with rumours that he is difficult to work with, seem to have stunted his growth as Merc's next big thing.
I doubt anyone would say he is a bad driver though, a lot of the issue has been timing and if there had been a seat with Merc backing further up the grid, there is a good chance he would be in it. Could Williams provide that seat?
There is the rumbling story about how the title sponsor, Martini, need at least one of the drivers to be over 25 for promotional purposes and Lance Stroll is very much not over 25, so their other driver needs to be. There is also a line of thinking that if the reserve is a suitable age, then the full time line up doesn't have to be. Its all quite unclear but, if the coming of age thing isn't an issue, would you give the young German the nod?
Where to start with Palmer. He has to be the unlikeliest candidate on the basis of track record. He was comprehensively outdone by his team mate one year and did so poorly the next that Renault dropped him. It's not looking good. Yes, he is a GP2 champion and no, you do not win that championship without being able to show up, but it took him four years to reach that point, time you're just not afforded in Formula 1.
So why is he even an option here?! Well, cash. He is backed, quite strongly and, although Williams are sitting pretty with Bank of Stroll and a lovely title sponsor in the bag, you can never have too much in this game. There are thought to have been some sort of negotiations too, with Jonathan Palmer's helicopter being spotted at Grove, so maybe he is in the running!
Ok, curveball. Nothing is confirmed at the revolving door that has become of Toro Rosso, but given that Kvyat doesn't know wether he will be driving from one week to the next, it's a safe assumption he won't be in 2018.
He has showed moments of brilliance. Podiums at Red Bull, consistent points, but there is no doubting that he entered a downward spiral that fateful day in Russia (the irony) where he managed to crash into Vettel twice in the space of two corners, putting him out the race. Demotion, humiliation, masses of DNFs and very few points later and here we are.
Yes, he is also under 25, but we think that may not be such an issue, so lets weigh this up. He does have the most experience in these cars and with these tyres of any of the others, and with Williams arguably in the middle of nowhere at the moment, they need someone who is going to move them forward, challenge for good points and develop the car. Could the young Russian be that driver with a bit of stability, or is he just too damaged for Williams to consider?
Let us know what you think about each of our candidates or if there is an outside bet you think we've missed!