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Williams: Formula 1 driver swaps unlikely before Russia

Force India and Williams agree no driver line-up changes will happen until after the next race in Singapore, but Williams is anticipating a move before the season's end

Since Lawrence Stroll purchased Force India it's been clear the Canadian wants to move his son Lance over from Williams before the end of the season, in order to give him a head start for 2019.

In theory, Robert Kubica would then be promoted to Stroll's vacant Williams race seat, as the team is contractually obliged to use him as reserve, leaving Esteban Ocon without a drive unless he is successfully placed elsewhere.

Efforts are still being made to get the Frenchman into McLaren, at the expense of Stoffel Vandoorne, while some sources have suggested Ocon could sit out a few races and then replace Kubica at Williams for the last part of 2018.

Deputy team principal Claire Williams suggested changes could take place soon after Singapore.

"I don't think it's going to happen quickly," she told Sky Sports F1. "There are quite a lot of hoops that we've all still got to jump through around the [Force India] sale in particular.

"Once that's happened I think then things will start moving. I don't think we'll see a change before Singapore certainly."

Asked about the likely timing of any moves, Williams replied: "I don't know, maybe around Russia, Austin, something like that. I think we just have to wait and see. It's a real moving target at the moment."

Aside from the commercial considerations and the untangling of various contracts, Force India is keen to go to Singapore with its current driver line-up in search of valuable points.

A major update package, delayed by the team's earlier financial problems, will finally be deployed for that race.

Asked by Sky F1 if he expected any driver changes before Singapore, new team principal Otmar Szafnauer stressed that logging more points is the short-term priority.

"I don't think so," he said. "We've got to look to see what we're going to do next year, we've got a lot of points yet to score this year.

"I think we're ninth now and we've got our sights set to be a little bit higher so we've got to focus on that. We'll worry about drivers at a later date.

"It was our biggest points haul of the year, 18 points in Spa, and we need to get some good points here as well.

"Hopefully this track suits us too, and then we've got a big upgrade coming in Singapore. We've got to focus on what we do best, which is going racing."

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