Esteban Ocon is aware that the Sahara Force India F1 Team will hold increased expectations as the young Frenchman enters his second full season in Formula 1.
Ocon impressed numerous times over the course of the 2017 season after his promotion from the now defunct Manor Racing team. The 21-year-old scored points in 18 of the 20 races, registering his first career retirement in Brazil after a first lap collision with his countryman Romain Grosjean.
And after such a successful first year with the soon to be renamed team, Ocon knows that more will be expected of him as the Silverstone based squad aim for a third consecutive top four finish in the Constructors’ Championship.
“I understand that they expect more from me, because I’m not a rookie anymore,” Ocon told F1i.com.
However, the Mercedes junior is not fazed by the task.
“Having got into Formula 1, I no longer experience stress. It is only a pleasure to race at the highest level.”
Force India are not only looking to keep their upwards trajectory going as they search for a first race win in the sport, but wish to keep their drivers in check – Ocon and team-mate Sergio Pérez clashed numerous times over the season, most notably at the Azerbaijan and Belgian Grand Prix – the two incidents cost Force India even more points and forced senior team members into enforcing an overtaking embargo between the pair.
And despite both drivers stating that they are keen to race each other again, Ocon knows that limits have to be upheld; but, he believes that the close rivalry was a positive for the team.
“Sergio and I both understand that this year we crossed some lines and missed chances to earn extra points for the team.”
“But in terms of results it was the best season for Force India, and our rivalry played a certain role in that.”
Looking beyond 2018, Ocon not only has to impress Force India, but his parent employers, the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team.
With a potential seat with the World Champions open for 2019, Ocon knows he must continue to mature and perform.
Speaking to Autosport, Ocon said that Mercedes were satisfied with his progression and keep in close contact with him and his current team.
“They call me for a quick meeting, 35-40 minutes, to see how I’m getting on, what are my issues, whether I should have improved.”
“They also have meetings with Force India to see how my development is going.”
“They are very close to me, to how I’m performing, which is normal. They are my main sponsor and I’m part of the development programme. They are really interested in what I’m doing, and I think it’s a good thing.”