Cape Town - Esteban Ocon may yet to be sidelined next season, but Toto Wolff is confident that come 2020 the Frenchman will be in a "good car."
Ocon is set to lose his Force India race seat at the end of this season after the team confirmed Sergio Perez had re-signed while Lance Stroll is expected to drive the second car.
The Mercedes protégé is looking elsewhere for a 2019 drive with Williams his most likely, and only, option.
That, though, means Ocon may be spending the season running near the back of the field given Williams' wretched form in 2018.
Should that happen, Wolff says it will only be for a year, as Ocon will be in a "good" car the following season.
“You know they say only fools are optimists, and in July I was really optimistic of having Esteban in a Renault,” said the Mercedes motorsport boss.
“So I don’t know. It’s not our call.
“Williams needs to make up their mind who they think is the best driver for their team.
“It’s not only Esteban, I think there’s Robert [Kubica] in the frame and others.
“And all of them deserve the chance, so Williams will make their choice.
“We are prepared for ‘Plan B’ with Esteban, one thing I can guarantee for you is he’s going to be in a good car in 2020 because there are many teams out there that have an interest in Esteban.
“We will try to facilitate (things) where we can but there’s nothing I could say ‘this is going to help him into the car’.”
Whether this is a hint that Ocon will stepping up to a Mercedes drive in 2020 remains to be seen.
While the team has Lewis Hamilton under contract, his team-mate Valtteri Bottas is only assured of a race seat for 2019 with an option for 2020.