Formula 1

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Williams whittle their driver shortlist for next season down to three

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Plenty of drivers have vied for the position of team-mate to Lance Stroll ahead of the upcoming 2018 season. Williams are also understood to have made overtures to several drivers in their search for the right candidate.

But according to Autosport, it now appears Williams have settled their eyes on just three drivers; Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa and Paul di Resta.

The logic that gets them to this final stage in the process reads something like a mathematical version of musical chairs. Williams have one of the most promising vacancies in the sport, the type any respectable driver would bite their hand off for.

Massa might continue driving for Williams. The Brazilian made a late in the day return to Williams after Valtteri Bottas went over to Mercedes at the start of the year.

He has raced well this year, picking up a respectable 31 points and sits in 11th place in the Drivers' Championship. Performances like that could see a thankful Williams team keep him on for 2018.

The news could reverse the fortune of Robert Kubica. The Pole had been in the running for a spot on the Renault team. Then the McLaren-Renault/Toro Rosso-Honda engine swap deal made Carlos Sainz Jr. available and Renault, who had chased the Spaniard for a year, signed him without hesitation. 

Williams were rumored to have reached out to the legendary Fernando Alonso, but the Spaniard is all but guaranteed to re-sign with McLaren in the wake if their switch to Renault engines.

Sergio Perez was another highly desired candidate, but Perez seems to have opted to stick with Force India in the hopes a strong 2018 season will help him break into the big leagues in 2019.

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore

Both Jolyon Palmer and Marcus Ericsson would, if asked, make the move to Williams, though Williams has little interest in either.

Williams' arrangement with sponsor alcohol brand Martini stipulates the team need at least one driver over the age of 25 (apparently it's a branding thing) - preventing 22-year-old Pascal Wehrlein making the transition from Sauber anytime soon.

This leaves them with Massa, Kubica, and reserve driver Paul di Resta.

F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Qualifying

Di Resta drove for Force India until 2013, when a series of poor performances saw him booted off ahead of the 2014 season. He then returned as a reserve driver for Williams last year and was brought in to replace a sick Felipe Massa at the last minute in Hungary earlier this season, surprising many with his impressive performance.

With a paucity of seats and an abundance of drivers, expect Williams to take their time with this decision.

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