Esteban Ocon insists he is not feeling the pressure of needing to step up his game in 2018. The Frenchman had an impressive rookie season in 2017, but now teammate Sergio Perez claims the pressure will be on Ocon to step up a notch next year. "He likes to make such statements in the media," Ocon told France's Auto Hebdo. "That's part of the game. I will continue to do my job, not feeling the increased pressure," he added.
Ocon and Perez clashed on and off the track this year, to the point that Force India even imposed a wheel-to-wheel racing ban. One implication of their stoush is that Toto Wolff may now be reluctant to promote Ocon to become Lewis Hamilton's teammate at Mercedes, given the earlier relationship between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
"I have talked a lot with Toto and of course such incidents should not be repeated," Ocon said. "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."
As for Force India's expectations, he answered: "I understand that they expect more from me, because I'm not a rookie anymore. But having got into formula one, I no longer experience stress. It is only a pleasure to race at the highest level."
But Ocon, 21, admitted his ultimate goal is to step up one day soon to Mercedes. "In the end, the decision is not made by me, and I fully trust Mercedes with regard to my career," he said. "Since I joined their programme, they always chose the right option for me. For now I'm focused on my work at Force India." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing