Force India deputy team principal Bob Fernley sees Esteban Ocon’s drive in the Monaco Grand Prix as a sign of how the Frenchman is maturing.
Ocon delivered during what is a crucial qualifying lap to start sixth in Monaco, setting him up to finish in the same position in only his second race on the street circuit. A brake issue after the late Virtual Safety Car period left Ocon vulnerable in the closing laps, but Fernley says the way his driver capitalized on his opportunity to score significant points shows how the 21-year-old is developing.
“I thought it was absolutely superb,” Fernley told RACER. “He really didn’t put a foot wrong anywhere. He was nice and steady, managed the tires well, had very good pace and then had a very scary last two or three laps with the brake issue but again managed to control something that some drivers could have easily lost it on.
“I thought there was maturity in that drive, yes. I think he took it to a different level in Monaco, especially that last part of it.”
While Force India was struggling on more high-downforce circuits after a correlation issue earlier in the season, Fernley insists he was confident the car would perform well in Monaco.
Asked if the level of performance was a surprise to the team, Fernley replied: “No I don’t think so.
“I think that in Baku we had a very good car, in Monaco we had a very good car. The chances are I’m hoping we’re going to be competitive in Canada. I think you’ve got to take us back to the aero circuits like Barcelona to then see where those weaknesses that we had earlier are. I think Monaco is about driver and getting the set-up right.”
And while optimistic that Force India will again be competitive in Canada, Fernley is more concerned with seeing how much progress has been made on the next high downforce circuits that follow when F1 returns to Europe.
“I think that where you’ve got the performance is very circuit specific, I think there’s always a chance for us to perform well. What we really want to do, the hard time for us will be making sure that the work we did in Barcelona and then the test in Barcelona, plus all the data we’ve now got, starts to pay dividends in France, Austria and Silverstone. Then we’ll know we’re on track.”