Esteban Ocon says his extra efforts in the simulator compared to Force India team-mate Sergio Perez ‘makes a big difference’ as he combats the Mexican’s wealth of Formula 1 experience, having only recently completed a full year in the sport.
Ocon stepped up into F1 after last year’s summer break at Manor when Rio Haryanto’s funding fell through and has been a standout performer since joining Force India this season with 10 points finishes in the opening 11 races – a record only beaten or equalled by the top three in the F1 drivers’ championship.
The French driver feels his extra work at Force India’s factory and in the simulator has been key to his impressive record and feels he’s putting in ‘a lot more’ time into the team than team-mate Perez in order to compensate for his relative inexperience in F1.
“I have to work very hard. I have a lot less experience than Sergio Perez so I have to catch up on so many details that come naturally to him,” Ocon said. “Before and after each race I am mostly in the factory for simulator work. I think that is what makes a big difference.
“I don’t want to say a number – so let’s put it this way: a lot more.”
Reflecting on the Force India pair’s major flashpoint of 2017, when the two drivers collided in Baku which ultimately forced Perez into retirement, Ocon says mistakes were made on both sides but it has been resolved which has allowed both to move on.
“I went to the factory right afterwards and the team said that it was a race incident and that we both made mistakes,” he said. “Of course that shouldn’t happen – but a race on such a track is close to a state of emergency.
“We have been told that we should be more careful in the future as it was not only his fault or only my fault. End of story.”
Ocon currently sits eighth in the F1 world drivers’ championship, 11 points behind team-mate Perez, with his best result being fifth place in the Spanish Grand Prix.