Published On: Thu, Jan 11th, 2018

Sergio Perez: Pressure on Esteban Ocon in 2018 Formula 1 season

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Sergio Perez says the pressure will be on his Force India team-mate Esteban Ocon in 2018 given the way he impressed in his first full Formula 1 campaign.

Ocon, who joined Force India with just nine races of experience with Manor from 2016, scored points in 18 of last year’s 20 grands prix and finished just 13 adrift of Perez in the standings.

In Autosport’s team principals’ top 10 poll, Mercedes junior Ocon, who has a multi-year contract with Force India, was ranked fifth.

Perez called beating Ocon “the main target” for the season.

“The pressure will be on him now, because it’s his second year with the team and everyone will expect big things from him,” Perez added.

“It will again be very close, I think.”

Perez admitted he was impressed by Ocon’s performance, citing strong preparation as key to him being on 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 team-mate] Nico [Hulkenberg]. They’re very similar in a way.”

Perez suggested September’s Singapore GP, when Force India brought a big update package for its car, was a point when he started to lose ground to Ocon.

“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.”

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