McLaren have announced that Stoffel Vandoorne will be dropped at the end of the season.
Vandoorne’s departure could pave the way for Lando Norris, the British team’s reserve driver, to take his place next year.
Norris, the 18-year-old Englishman, has participated in practice at the last two grands prix for McLaren, and is on a three-driver shortlist for 2019.
Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon are also in contention for the seat, although it is understood that the former has already agreed a deal with Force India for next year.
Frenchman Ocon has strong ties with Mercedes, and it is uncertain whether they would allow him to join McLaren on a permanent deal.
Spaniard Carlos Sainz has already been announced as one of the two McLaren drivers for next year.
Vandoorne, 26, replaced Jenson Button at McLaren for the 2017 season, but despite a steady opening campaign, the Belgian has been desperately out of sorts in recent races.
He has not scored a point since the fourth round, while Fernando Alonso, the double world champion who is retiring from the sport at the end of the year, has beaten his team-mate in qualifying at every race this season.
Vandoorne qualified last for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix before he took the chequered flag in 12th.
Lewis Hamilton celebrated one of the finest victories of his career after he went behind enemy lines to stun Ferrari and take a major step towards securing a fifth world championship.
The fanatical Tifosi supporters arrived in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix expecting to see Sebastian Vettel convert a Ferrari lockout of the front row into a crushing win.
Instead, they saw their number one championship contender fall out of the reckoning after just four corners following a clumsy opening-lap collision with his rival.
Then, they witnessed Hamilton deliver a sensational performance which climaxed in the Brit passing Kimi Raikkonen for his 68th career win. Vettel recovered from last to fourth.
“Given the sheer pressure that we are under, I will definitely consider this win to be right up there in my career,” Hamilton said.
“There are a lot of Ferrari fans out there, and you hear a lot of negative sounds, but that only encourages and energises me.
“When I spot the British flags amongst the Ferrari red, that is my fuel, and I get my positivity and energy from them. They are the miracle today.”
Vettel was at his commanding best seven days ago to win in Belgium, but his defeat here is a major setback in his championship quest, and from one which he will struggle to recover.
On a frantic opening lap, Vettel covered the inside at the second chicane, but Hamilton moved to the racing line and was ahead going into the corner. Vettel did not want to concede the place, and in doing so, thudded into Hamilton’s Mercedes before spiralling into a spin.
Vettel, who limped back to the pits for repairs, blamed Hamilton for failing to leave him enough room as they tangled. “Silly”, was the German’s verdict.
The stewards took no action, but Nico Rosberg, the 2016 world champion, had made up his mind.
“I think it was 100 per cent Sebastian’s fault,” Rosberg said on Sky Sports commentary. “Hamilton gave him all the room. He’s not going to become world champion if he keeps doing these things.”
Indeed, it marked Vettel’s fifth big error of the season, while Hamilton has largely failed to put a foot wrong. It is proving the difference.
“I didn’t want to walk away with here leaving something on the table,” Hamilton said. “I love the wheel-to-wheel battles, and it is the thing I love most about racing.
“That was one tough race, but really fun and enjoyable. This season is shaping up to being one of the best.”
Bottas completed the podium positions. Max Verstappen was demoted to fifth after pushing Bottas off the track.
Sebastian Vettel has accused Lewis Hamilton of being at fault for their collision in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
Vettel is now a distant 30 points behind in the championship race after he finished only fourth and Hamilton claimed a brilliant win in Monza.
The flashpoint arrived after only four corners when Hamilton and Vettel tangled at the second chicane.
Hamilton took advantage of a slipstream off the back of Vettel’s Ferrari to line up a move on his rival.
Vettel covered the inside, but Hamilton moved to his right to take the racing line, and he was ahead of the Ferrari car as they took the corner side-by-side.
Vettel appeared reluctant to give up the place, and the right-hand side of his Ferrari made contact with Hamilton’s Mercedes. Vettel spun, dropped to last, and had to pit for a new front wing.
“That was silly,” Vettel said over the radio. “Where did he [Hamilton] want to go?”
The stewards reviewed the incident, but took no action.
“I didn’t want to try something silly so I left a gap, and Lewis saw a little space around the outside of me,” Vettel said.
“But then he didn’t leave any room. I had no other chance than to run into him and make contact.
“Unfortunately, I was the one that spun around, which was a bit ironic.”
Hamilton’s long-time rival Nico Rosberg, however, claimed on Sky Sports commentary that Vettel was “100 per cent at fault”.
Later, Hamilton was asked for his response to Vettel’s claim that the first-lap move was “silly”.
“It worked,” he replied. “It was a racing move and that is what we are supposed to do out there. We are supposed to be racing.
“I left him space and I was still on the track.
“When we went into turn four, I was a bit surprised that he chose the inside line and did not go for the outside.
“That was my opportunity and I had to make sure that I was far enough alongside him. We touched for a brief moment and my car was slightly damaged afterwards, but fortunately I was able to continue.”