It could be that Mexican ex-Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez, attending the Mexican Grand Prix, says ‘there are chances’ for him to drive in Formula 1 next season, and everyone puts two and two together and he ends the weekend as the latest driver to be odds-on favourite for the Williams drive that is likely to be vacated by Lance Stroll at the end of the season.
Of course, it could be pure speculation.
Esteban Gutierrez may be simply throwing his hat into the ring and letting everyone know he’s still around – still eager to return to F1 – still involved with Mercedes – still eligible.
Williams were tight lipped on the subject, but they are well versed at that having been at the centre of similar speculation for months.
They could have moved to quash the rumours at the source, but not doing so doesn’t necessarily mean it’s on. Williams, without a sponsor for 2019 and beyond, would certainly benefit from the media exposure that such speculation generates, and those column inches might just prick the attention of a would-be sponsor.
It is thought that Esteban Gutierrez would bring with him sponsorship from a number of Mexican backers.
From a performance perspective would Esteban Gutierrez, whose last F1 involvement was a pointless (both literally and figuratively) season with Haas in 2016, be a significant step up from current Williams driver Sergey Sirotkin? I don’t think he would, and so he’s going to have to out outmuscle him financially if he’s to convince Williams that the upheaval ousting one driver and recruiting another would bring.
And that is assuming the ‘pay-driver’ route is the one Williams will go down for their second car alongside George Russell for the 2019 Formula 1 season.
There is still an opportunity for Williams to employ both drivers based entirely on ability, but this is dependent on an injection of cash from a third party.
Sadly as time goes on this is looking increasingly unlikely.