Esteban Ocon believes it is positive if expectations are higher in 2018 because it means he set a high standard during his 2017 campaign.
The Frenchman joined Force India on a multi-year contract ahead of last season following half a year with Manor, and duly impressed as the team easily secured fourth in the constructors’ championship. Teammate Sergio Perez says the strong performance in his first full season will mean the pressure is on Ocon to deliver again next year, something the 21-year-old is happy to deal with.
“I feel all right if everyone is watching me for that; people are expecting me to do well, which is always positive,” Ocon said. “I don’t have more pressure, I will work the same way with the team with dedication and train the same way. I won’t change much, except that I’m a different driver now compared to the beginning of the year. I’ve been learning so much more which will help me at the start of the year, like knowing the tracks – Australia, China, Monaco – all that will help me.
“[The biggest lesson from this year is] that you can’t let any details hang there. Any small issues you can’t leave it with come back bigger so any details you can fix you have to fix. That is what I’ve learned this year and put into my performances.”
Having finished every race he had started in F1 until his first retirement at the penultimate round in Brazil, Ocon says he focused on gaining experience that helped him perform at a higher level in 2017.
“That’s what I’ve tried to do, and perhaps why I took less risks sometimes to finish the races, to pick up as much mileage as I could. I’m pretty pleased with how I have improved and learnt and how it felt easier going through the season. After the summer break and coming back to tracks for a second time was a big help.
“Sure, in the team people know you better and I know them better, so they just understand things better like the set-up of the car, the things you need and having a more solid package with everyone on the same page.”