Stroll pleased to be able to maintain his friendship with Ocon

Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams with Esteban Ocon (FRA) Racing Point Force India F1 Team
© XPB 

Current Williams driver Lance Stroll says he continues to be good friends in the Formula 1 paddock with Esteban Ocon.

That's despite the likelihood that Stroll will oust Ocon from his seat at Force India next season, and leave the French driver without a place on the grid in 2019.

Stroll's father Lawrence led a consortium that rescued Force India from administration over the summer, making it almost certain that Lance will move to the team over the winter and line up alongside Sergio Perez.

That expected development took a step forward this week with the announcement that Williams has already signed George Russell to race for them next year, ostensibly in place of the departing Stroll.

That leaves Esteban Ocon out in the cold. Ironically, Ocon and Stroll are long-time friends, and Stroll insists that this remains the case despite the uncomfortable prospect of usurping Ocon from the grid.

"There's business, there's politics in Formula 1," the Canadian teenager said on Instagram. "I have my management team, he has his management team, we're both trying to do what's best for our careers, and there's our friendship.

"We competed together in karts, we fought wheel-to-wheel in karts, he was in Prema Formula Three, he won the championship, I came in.

"We've always had a good friendship and it's good to see that bridge hasn't burned."

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Racing Point Force India F1 VJM11 on the grid.

Fans of the French driver have been outraged about Stroll's financial backing apparently leaving Ocon out of a seat next year, despite having put in a strong second season at Force India in 2018.

Ocon took to social media last month to appeal to his supports not to take out their frustration on Stroll.

"We have the same passion, spirit of competition, and the same love for the sport," he wrote. "Please be respectful and show your support, nothing is easy in life and we all work hard to be here."

Sergey Sirotkin remains in pole position to retain the second seat at Williams. Other contenders include the team's current test and development driver Robert Kubica, as well as former Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein.

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