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2018 F1

Stroll to Force India, Mazepin or Markelov to Williams F1

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Nikita Mazepin

Majority of media reported that Lance Stroll would join into Force India as a race driver role early as Monza. Racing point Force India’s newly-appointed Team Principal (former COO), Otmar Szafnauer hints that Sergio Perez and Ocon would be retained by the team for Monza at least.

This would mean that Stroll would need to wait till Singapore GP to get himself into one of his dad’s cars. However, one could assume that the uncertainty around Force India’s participation and legal status (within Formula One) was one of the reasons why Stroll chose to stick to Williams at Spa.

Also, there are existing contracts (Stroll-Williams, Perez and Ocon-Force India) that would need careful manoeuvring to ensure that no bridge is burnt in the process; even more so because Ocon is a Mercedes junior driver. Although there’s a good chance that Stroll’s move to Force India in 2018 will end up in tears for one of the drivers on the grid.

At Spa, almost every media person tried to get the drivers (Stroll, Perez and Ocon) to address their immediate future with the team, but the attempts were futile.

However, a cameraman’s surprising capture of a talk between Sebastian Vettel and Esteban Ocon after Saturday’s qualifying session gave much headway into what the lineup could be in the future.

Russian driver could replace Stroll

Williams could soon have an all-Russian driver lineup. Team boss Claire Williams has confirmed that the struggling Grove based team expects to lose Lance Stroll, after his father Lawrence bought Force India.

“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 told Germany’s motorsport-magazin.com.

She denied that, with title sponsor Martini going too, the Stroll exit is basically 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, sooner or later, Williams will have to replace Lance Stroll.

The British team already has one Russian driver in the form of Sergey Sirotkin, who brings backing from SMP Bank.

And now, there are two other Russians who are lining up to join him. One is Nikita Mazepin, whose father Dmitry is querying the sale of Force India to Stroll.

When asked what Mazepin snr is up to in the paddock, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff answered: “I don’t know. We have talked, but only about the weather in Sardinia.”

The other Russian linked to Williams is Artem Markelov, who drives in Formula 2 for Russian Time. His father is 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 is quoted by Russia’s Sportbox.

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