Few rookies have enjoyed such a consistent start to their Formula One careers as Esteban Ocon – eighth in the drivers’ standings and scoring points in every race except two this season.
The impressive Frenchman has accumulated 83 points in the driver’s standing, lying just 11 points behind Force India team-mate Sergio Perez in seventh position.
The duo have finished within one point of each other on 10 occasions this season, with the Mexican generally getting the upper hand over the youngster.
But it hasn’t been all rosy, with Force India threatening to impose team orders on the pair following three incidents this season – the most notable of which was a double collision at the Belgian GP which cost them valuable points following the retirement of Perez.
“It was a tough time for me and Sergio. The team had to take a decision that was difficult at the time. In the end they managed it well for both of us,” he said.
“If you take only one driver we would be P4 in the championship. It really means we’ve been solid this season, even though we got fourth place in the end in the constructors’ championship.”
Force India may be the top team outside of the big three of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, but Ocon believes they can challenge their rivals and finish on a positive note at Yas Marina this weekend.
“I think it’s very good for your mind to finish on a high and to go into winter break feeling like you’ve finished well. If you finish badly then you have to climb up in your mind,” he said.
“You’re always learning every time you go out in the car. I’m working to be the best. I will not stop working until I reach that goal with the team.”
The return of the French Grand Prix next June is welcome news for the Evreux native. Ocon was 10 when the race was last held at Magny- Cours in 2008, with Felipe Massa storming to victory in a Ferrari.
“It’s awesome news having the French GP next year. All tickets were sold in two days. Some of my friends tried to get them and they couldn’t get any at all,” he said.
“It’s really nice to know it’s coming back to France. I hope it’s going to be a great show and be one of the best races on the calendar.”