“Of course Felipe is very much in the frame - very, very high on our list of possibilities,” said Chief Technical Officer Paddy Lowe. “But we owe it to ourselves to take a look around and see what could be the best option for the team going forwards.”
Williams are expected to test both Di Resta – their reserve driver and a veteran of 59 F1 starts – and Robert Kubica – the former Grand Prix winner ruled out of the sport through injury in 2011 – in the coming weeks using 2014-spec machinery.
“We will test those two drivers,” confirmed Lowe. “We won’t give away any information around what we do within those tests, that’s a private matter for us and I would stress that that doesn’t mean that they’re the only drivers under consideration. As I said earlier, we’re considering quite a large range of which they are only two possibilities.”
Former Force India racer Di Resta deputised for an ill Massa at this year's Hungarian Grand Prix, while Kubica - who now has reigning world champion Nico Rosberg on his management team - tested Renault's 2017 car at August's in-season test in Budapest.
The one man who will definitely race for Williams next year is Lance Stroll. Despite a shaky start, the Canadian teenager has impressed during his rookie season with the team and has all but matched Massa in the points stakes.
“Lance has made great progress through the year,” said Lowe. “We’re seeing him performing consistently, particularly in the races, so we need a driver to complement Lance on that side of the garage.
“But all options are under consideration, to be honest. You’ve probably seen a number of names that are floating around that we’re looking at but honestly the range is almost unlimited. We will consider all ideas. We’re not in a super hurry to do so and we’ll just make sure we land the best line-up we can.”
Asked if the aim was to have another experienced driver alongside Stroll next season, Lowe added: “I think there are many attributes you could attach to different drivers and experience could be one of them, but we may weigh that against other things. We’re not fixed on any particular aspect.”