Estaban Ocon’s chances of landing a Formula 1 drive for 2019 remain “pretty grim”, according to Mercedes boss Toto Wolff.

Ocon looks set to miss out on a drive next season with Lance Stroll expected to join his father at Force India alongside Sergio Perez, leaving a lack of options available for the Mercedes junior after a deal with Renault fell through following Daniel Ricciardo’s bombshell switch.

Williams could provide Ocon a lifeline, with deputy team principal Claire Williams insisting talent will be a “predominant” factor in deciding who will partner Formula 2 championship leader George Russell in 2019.

But the Frenchman faces stiff competition from Sergey Sirotkin and Robert Kubica, who are both vying for the sole-remaining seat at the British squad, though Williams stressed the team is not "in any mad rush" to make a final call.

“For next year the chances are pretty grim,” Wolff told Sky Sports F1 at the Mexican Grand Prix.

“That has not changed in the last 2 months, but we are already thinking about 2020.

“He is going to be involved in all our development program in the Mercedes cars and then we see where it ends up.”

Ocon previously said it would be unfair to consider a potential move to Williams for 2019 as a downgrade given its difficult campaign so far this year

Asked if it would be better for Ocon to have a year out rather than be in a car that is not competitive, Wolff replied: “That is one of the considerations.

“You need to balance it. On one side you want him to stay sharp and race and help develop a car that is not performing so well.

“But on the other side he can do a really good support job in the Mercedes also.”

And Wolff insisted he is not worried by suggestions a Russell-Ocon line-up at Williams could end up harming one driver’s future prospects with Mercedes.

“George’s plan is very much to stay long term with Williams and help the team come back, so there is a multiyear contract and he knows very well that the first year will be maybe more difficult,” he explained.

“For Esteban it is a completely different ballgame. I tend to agree with that it is maybe better to sit one year out and come back in a strong car.”