Esteban Ocon says he’s pleased with how much he was able to improve over the course of the 2017 season after changing teams over the winter.
Ocon made his Formula 1 début with Manor at the 2016 Belgian Grand Prix. This year he moved to Force India, and went on to score points in 18 of the 20 races.
“It was a smooth transition,” Ocon told Motorsport.com, adding that it the tricky part was getting the fine details right.
“It’s a massive improvement we’ve done by correcting all the details,” he said. “You need to know the people, then understand the car together with the people. And they need to understand my feedback properly.
“I also needed experience in knowing how the car will perform better with my driving style,” he added.
Ocon’s form took another leap forward after the summer break, when he returned to some of the tracks he’d already raced at with Manor.
“Coming on the second time on the tracks in Formula 1 helps me,” he agreed. “With all the knowledge I have from the season it’s helped me make that big step.
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Ocon has demonstrated remarkable consistency since stepping up to Formula 1. He’s retired only once in 29 Grand Prix appearances, after colliding with Romain Grosjean in Brazil.
“I took a bit less risk sometimes to try and finish the races,” he admitted. “To pick up as much mileage as I could and try, and pick up as much things as I could.
“I was pretty pleased with how I improved, how I learned things, and how it felt easier just going through the year.”
Perhaps the low-point of his season was a string of clashes with his team mate Sergio Perez. The pair collided at Baku, Spa and finally in Hungary before Force India imposed team orders.
“It was a tough time for sure, for me, for Checo, for the team, for everyone,” Ocon admitted. “The team had to take a decision that was difficult for everyone.
“At the end it was managed very well, I think. We got the fourth place [in the constructors standings] at the end.
“It means we’ve been solid. Even when we didn’t have the fourth-fastest car we were there always and that’s a great sign.”
The battle between the team mates will certainly resume in 2018.
“My target is to be faster than [Perez]. I want to be in front of him. But he is a very fast driver,” noted Ocon. “I need to keep pushing because he’s there all the time. I want to stay in front
“Even if I’ve been in front in many of the races, it’s very close between each other. I can’t rest,” he added. “At the moment, we’re doing a strong job so we have to continue.”
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