OCTOBER 28, 2016

Silly season still bubbling in Mexico

The 2017 driver 'silly season' is continuing to bubble away in the F1 paddock.

The 2017 driver 'silly season' is continuing to bubble away in the F1 paddock.

The rumours and rumblings have now moved on to Mexico City, but all eyes will be on Williams' Grove HQ next Thursday when the British team makes an announcement.

Lance Stroll is set to be confirmed as Felipe Massa's replacement, but his likely teammate Valtteri Bottas was not confirming he will be there for the November 3 call.

"I don't know yet, I'll have to see," he is quoted by the Finnish media in Mexico.

In truth, the real intrigue is about the Renault and Force India seats, with each team having a single vacancy.

"I see it as mainly me or Kevin (Magnussen)," said Jolyon Palmer on Thursday, although the Briton is linked with a potential move to Sauber.

Some now think Dane Magnussen is the favourite to keep his seat, but he said in Mexico: "I haven't signed anything, but I want to stay.

"It's my best option, but I don't know when there will be clarification."

Force India team boss Vijay Mallya has denied he wants a 'pay driver' to replace the Renault-bound Nico Hulkenberg -- but a couple of well-backed drivers are strongly linked with the seat.

One of them is Sauber's Felipe Nasr, who said in Mexico: "Hopefully we can announce something about my future in Brazil."

But Force India is already strongly backed by Sergio Perez's Mexican dollars -- so his countryman Esteban Gutierrez is now eyeing that seat.

"Yeah, why not? It would be fantastic," he said.

Gutierrez admitted that his future at Haas is unclear.

"I think Gene (Haas) has been very clear that they want to wait a few races, but we cannot risk to fall between two chairs," he said.

The Mexican added that the "deadline" is the next two weeks, which ties in with Nasr's statement about the Brazilian grand prix in a fortnight.