Wolff: Possible Ocon/Stroll/Vandoorne driver swaps like chess moves

Esteban Ocon is still linked with a 2018 McLaren move, but Mercedes Formula 1 boss Toto Wolff says several "chess figures" would have to move for it to happen

Wolff: Possible Ocon/Stroll/Vandoorne driver swaps like chess moves

With the door now closed at Renault for 2019 with Daniel Ricciardo's upcoming move, and Racing Point Force India set to feature Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez, Mercedes has targeted McLaren as its junior driver's best option for next season.

Efforts are being made to place Ocon at McLaren as soon as possible - with the Singapore Grand Prix looking more likely than Monza - in order to free up a place at Force India for Stroll, whose father now owns the team.

Robert Kubica would then step up to the Williams race seat for the remainder of 2018 and current McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne would be left without a drive.

When asked if Ocon could move teams even as early as Monza, Toto Wolff said: "There is a lot of discussion going on at the moment.

"It is not down to one party deciding a movement, but we need to put in place several chess figures, and that isn't clear yet."

Stroll's current team boss Claire Williams hinted on Friday that changes are in the works.

"There are a lots of twists and turns in F1, aren't there?," she said. "We've seen that over the past few weeks alone. So I think we'll have to wait and see what the future brings.

"It might be odd if Lawrence [Stroll] owns one team with his son in another, but hey, this is F1."

But other team bosses involved are less keen to suggest that it could happen.

McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran insisted that Vandoorne's drive was secure, saying: "Yeah I can confirm that.

"At present we have no other plans and he will be in the car for the rest of the year."

When asked to confirm that Ocon had recently visited McLaren for a seat fitting he said: "Esteban is not our driver, so I'm not going to make any comments about that."

Force India team principal Otmar Szafnauer also said there were no plans to replace Ocon with Stroll.

But Wolff remains confident that he will be able to find a solution for Ocon for 2019 and beyond.

"I have no doubt that Esteban Ocon will win races and compete for championships in the future," he said.

"We thought his future was clear around Budapest, and it all changed within 48 hours. But it is how it is, it makes no sense to complain.

"We will continue to help him in finding a short term solution for him to drive.

"There is a lot of interest out there, and it's just a matter of scanning the market in the next few days to choose the right option for him and for the team.

"But I'm very optimistic for his future."

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