Formula One: Drivers aim to Force the issue

Force India drivers Sergio Perez (far left) and Esteban Ocon at the NEC Hyflux Innovation Centre office yesterday. The birthday cake was an early celebration for Ocon, who turns 21 on Sunday.
Force India drivers Sergio Perez (left) and Esteban Ocon at the NEC Hyflux Innovation Centre office yesterday. The birthday cake was an early celebration for Ocon, who turns 21 on Sunday.ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

With only seven races left in his first full Formula One season, Force India's Esteban Ocon has impressed with his consistency.

The 20-year-old, who won the GP3 title in 2015, has finished in the points in 12 out of the 13 races so far, proving his potential.

He is eighth in the driver standings with 55 points and his best finish was fifth in Barcelona. His team-mate Sergio Perez, who finished fourth in Spain, is one slot ahead of him in seventh spot, with 58 points.

"In the end, consistency is the key if you want to be in a good position in the championship, and I always keep that in mind," said the Frenchman, who will turn 21 on Sunday. He joined Manor last August, replacing Indonesian Rio Haryanto midway through the season.

"It's been a very fast journey (over the last 12 months); it still feels like my debut was just yesterday," he said. "I'm enjoying myself, enjoying driving around the world. It's what I have been working for my whole life and I really like it."

While Ocon and Perez have been involved in several bust-ups this year, both drivers were at yesterday's meet-and-greet session at information and communication technologies partner NEC's Hyflux Innovation Centre office.

Force India currently sit fourth in the constructor standings with 113 points, 99 behind third-placed Red Bull. The team finished a record fourth last year with 173 points.

Perez, 27, praised their VJM10 as a "very consistent car". The Mexican added: "The team worked really hard to get that car, to get that result, and that's what we try to manage - to extract (the maximum from) the package each time."

Both drivers lamented spending power as the main reason for the gap between the top three teams.

Ocon said: "The difference in budgets is big but we are still not very far from the others. Looking at that, it really proves that our team is doing a fantastic job this season.

"If we could make it into the points with both cars (in Singapore) I think it'll be a good result."

VIDEO Force India drivers autograph a fan's helmet: str.sg/4VHW++

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Drivers aim to Force the issue'. Print Edition | Subscribe