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.