Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Sergio Perez has stated that the signing of Esteban Ocon, who is relatively new to F1, does not automatically mean he will become team leader next season.
Highly rated Frenchman Ocon, who replaces Nico Hulkenberg in the Silverstone based team’s driver line-up, has impressive racing credentials having won the European Formula 3 Championship in 2014, beating now Red Bull Racing driver and highly-rated Max Verstappen to the crown.
As far as F1 is concerned however, he does not possess a wealth of experience, having only joined Manor Racing MRT halfway through the 2016 season.
The 20-year-old is however part of the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team young driver programme, and impressed enough last year to be offered the seat at Force India ahead of fellow Mercedes and Manor team-mate Pascal Wehrlein, which was no doubt a confidence boosting moment for the Frenchman.
Seasoned team-mate Perez in contrast, is heading into his fourth season with the Silverstone based squad, having achieved the biggest points haul in his F1 career so far in 2016, helping Force India to do the same.
Nevertheless, the Mexican has advised that nothing will change in his methods for 2017, which appear to be working well enough for the 26-year-old so far.
“I think you always have to give your maximum with the engineers, giving the best possible feedback all the time and that is the same with anyone.
“Being team-mates with Nico or [Jenson] Button [at McLaren], you have to do your work and you hope to have someone next to you that can also push their side as well. That is how you improve.”
Having a less experienced team-mate alongside him this time around, does not bother Perez either, who believes as long as he concentrates on his own game plan as he has been doing previously, there will be no problems.
“No… that changes nothing. I have to get on with my job as I have done in other years. Deliver on track and off track.”
Force India finished fourth in the constructor’s standings in 2016, their highest ever position, and will be hoping they can achieve similar or better next season, as they continue to go from strength to strength.