Williams' George Russell has emerged as the leading contender to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes for next weekend's Sakhir GP according to multiple reports out of Bahrain.
Talks are apparently ongoing in Bahrain between Mercedes and Williams management to reach an agreement for the Grove-based outfit to release its driver for a one-off with the championship winning outfit following Hamilton's unavailability after testing positive for COVID-19.
Should the negotiations reach a successful outcome, Williams reserve Jack Aitken, who has yet to race in F1 but who holds a super licence, is Russell's most likely replacement.
If the talks are not successful, Mercedes is likely to rely on Stoffel Vandoorne to fill Hamilton's seat, as the Belgian is the Brackley team's official reserve and is race-ready having wrapped up his campaign in Formula E with the German manufacturer.
While racing for Williams, Russell remains contracted to Mercedes who backed the young Briton and 2018 Formula 2 champion during his formative years.
Williams is likely to demand a financial compensation from Mercedes for releasing its driver, but the prospect of lending Russell to the Black Arrows squad could entail some interesting marketing benefits for the team if the 22-year-old wins next weekend - hardly a far-fetched hypothesis - and then returns to Grove a Grand Prix victor.