[F1 2017 NEWS] ESTEBAN OCON: STAR PERFORMER

Force India’s Esteban Ocon has, undoubtedly, been one of the stars of F1 2017, the Frenchman a revelation in his first full season.

The 21-year-old began the year ahead of the curve – with nine Grand Prix starts under his belt, having replaced Rio Haryanto at Manor Racing from Belgium to Abu Dhabi, finishing four of the last five events ahead of then-teammate Pascal Wehrlein.

This year, though, was a big step up with Force India leading the midfield, and Ocon facing Sergio Pérez – the Mexican a new high water mark with his stints at Swiss squad Sauber and top team McLaren.

SOUNDBITE (English) ESTEBAN OCON,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“I think that at the end we will be pretty close all the way through the season - but my target is definitely to push him and beat him.”

On balance, Pérez outqualified Ocon 13 to 7 and also outraced him 11 to 6 when they could be compared. Ocon also trailed the Mexican in the standings, 13 points the difference after 20 rounds.

But the totals don’t tell the real story, with Ocon far stronger from Belgium onwards, all at Grands Prix he had previously competed in.

In the last nine races, Ocon outqualified Pérez five times and outraced him in four – finishing just two points adrift. The Frenchman showing that experience counts in getting the right results.

Should the trend continue, Ocon would likely be a hot prospect to replace Valtteri Bottas at the works Mercedes team but it’s not something that the 21-year-old is even thinking about right now.

SOUNDBITE (English) ESTEBAN OCON,
F1 DRIVER, FORCE INDIA:
“Mercedes AMG is my main sponsor this season. So for sure, if you are in a program like that - the normal way is to be driving the Silver Arrow in the future, but at the moment I’m a Force India driver."

Ocon continues to be spoken about as the future of F1 – along with others like Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen, McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne and Renault’s Carlos Sainz.