Canadian teenager Lance Stroll has emerged as a frontrunner to replace Felipe Massa at the Williams Formula One team next season after the Brazilian announced his retirement last week.
Jacques Villeneuve, the 1997 world champion who was the last Canadian to race for the British-based team, told Reuters at Monza that he believed the deal was all but done for the 17-year-old.
A team source confirmed separately that Stroll was on the short list, along with Brazilian Felipe Nasr, who was a Williams reserve before securing his current race seat at Sauber.
Stroll turns 18 in October and is on course to win the European F3 title, which would secure him the necessary super-licence.
His career has been bankrolled by billionaire father Lawrence, who made his fortune with the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors fashion brands.
Williams signed the youngster last year as a development driver with a promise he would be ‘fully immersed’ in the team in the same way that current race driver Valtteri Bottas was.