Sergio Perez admits he has been surprised by just how close his rivalry with team-mate Esteban Ocon has been in 2017, with the Mexican admitting he was expecting a far easier time of it during the Frenchman’s first year with the Sahara Formula 1 Team.
Just nine points separate the two drivers heading into the final two races of the season, but Perez and Ocon have often been fighting over the same piece of track, with contact coming during both the Azerbaijan and Belgian Grand Prix that resulted in their team introducing team orders in a bid to avoid a repeat.
Perez believes it is good to have a strong team-mate in Formula 1 as it ensures that he avoids complacency and pushes to the limit, and despite it being Ocon’s first full season in Formula 1, Perez is also learning things from the Frenchman.
“I did not think he would have such results in his first year,” said Perez to French publication Auto Hebdo. “Even with a difficult car, Esteban still manages to go fast. That’s one of his strengths and I have to learn from that.
“Recently, he has also managed to improve a lot in qualifying, but for me it’s good to have a team-mate to push me to my limits. Because in today’s F1, your team-mate is your only reference.
“The three teams in front of us are untouchable.”