Esteban Ocon will be under pressure to maintain and improve his performance in 2018 after the Frenchman had an impressive first full season in F1 racing, says his teammate Sergio Perez.
Ocon came to Force India at the beginning of 2017 after a nine-race stint at Manor in 2016. He scored 18 points in 20 races and finished one place below Perez in the driver’s standing.
The French driver was ranked fifth in the Motorsport team principals’ top 10 poll in 2017.
Speaking about 2018, Perez said: “[Beating Ocon] is the main target [in 2018],” said Perez. “The pressure will be on him now because it’s his second year with the team and everyone will expect big things from him.
“It will again be very close I think.”
Ocon’s performance was impressive; Perez admitted and said that the youngster’s strong preparation helped him get the pace straight away.
“I certainly rate Esteban,” said Perez. “He’s got a lot of talent and a lot of experience.
“He came to Formula 1 very well prepared. He was already quite mature, with a lot of knowledge behind him, so he was straight away on the pace.
“He definitely did a really good job. There’s no secret that he’s a very good driver, and one of the drivers for the future.
“His driving style is very comparable to [former teammate] Nico [Hulkenberg]. They’re very similar in a way.”
Perez believes he started losing ground to Ocon after Force India installed a big update package ahead of the Singapore GP.
“We brought some upgrades, and setting up the car with those upgrades, I lacked a lot of balance,” said Perez.
“I was not feeling comfortable over one lap. Esteban all of a sudden was quite strong in qualifying, so in that period was when I struggled.
“But I’m pleased that we managed to fix that. We have very good understanding on what went wrong.
“So I’m pretty confident, especially going forwards for next year, it will be a good starting point for myself.”