Paul di Resta, currently Williams’ reserve driver, is a leading contender to become one of the team’s main drivers next season alongside Lance Stroll.

The team respects Di Resta and he impressed them when he replaced the unwell Felipe Massa at the Hungarian GP in July.

The team is yet to make a decision on their 2018 driver line-up and there is a chance that Massa will stay in place. However, if Massa does retire then it seems that either Di Resta or Robert Kubica are the most likely replacements.

In 2012 Kubica suffered from career-changing arm injuries but this summer he tested three times for Renault before he was overlooked for Carlos Sainz. There have been persistent doubts about whether Kubica could make a full-time return to the sport and Renault have said that there are unresolved questions surrounding the 31-year-old, even after he ran the equivalent of two race distances in August’s test at the Hungaroring.

On the other hand, there are no similar issues with Di Resta. He became Williams’ reserve driver in 2016 and qualified within a second of Stroll in Budapest after his last-minute call-up despite the fact he had never driven the car before qualifying.

At the time Paddy Lowe, Williams technical chief, said, “I think he’s done his reputation no end of good this weekend. Paul did an absolutely terrific job, as I think everyone recognised.”

There have been some other names floated as possible replacements such as Jolyon Palmer. Pascal Wehrlein has also been mentioned, but at just 22 years old, his age is likely to cause a problem as Martini, Williams’ main sponsor, are thought to be opposed to a driver under the age of 25 partnering teenager Stroll next year.