2017 F1 team mate battles: Perez vs Ocon at Force India

2017 F1 season review

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Sergio Perez defied the expectations of many by edging Nico Hulkenberg over the course of their three years as team mates at Force India.

But if he thought life would get easier when Hulkenberg’s place was taken by Esteban Ocon he was in for a surprise. Ocon did half a season with Manor last year and once the championship returned to tracks he’d already visited as an F1 driver he really turned up the heat on his team mate.

The pair had a few run-ins well before then. The way Perez tells it, the collision between their pair in Azerbaijan was the beginning of the trouble. But this was clearly rooted in the team’s mis-handling of the strategies it drivers used in Canada, where Perez refused to consider swapping places with his team mate.

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As well as in Baku, the pair made contact at thew Hungaroring at, most destructively, at Spa-Francorchamps. The latter drove the team to impose a ban on the pair racing each other.

Meanwhile Ocon continued to improve. Perez, who finished ‘best of the rest’ in three of the first seven races, was unable to stop Ocon reeling off three such finishes of his own in consecutive races late in the season. Ocon continued to threaten Perez in the overall points standings until Romain Grosjean took him out in Brazil – one of only two non-scores in the rookie’s entire season.

Perez won the battle but it was closer than many expected. While Force India can be pleased to have two such quick drivers in their cars, they may be concerned about more run-ins during 2018.

Perez vs Ocon: The scores

Perez vs Ocon: Season results

Sergio Perez Q
Esteban Ocon Q R

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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11 comments on “2017 F1 team mate battles: Perez vs Ocon at Force India”

  1. From a guy who was a rookie for half the season, to push Perez, one of the best of the midfielders, this far, shows incredible talent. Ocon is up there with the very best and he’ll show it soon enough. Probably in the Mercedes come 2019.

    1. @hahostolze ”Probably in the Mercedes come 2019.”
      – I wouldn’t use the word ‘probably’ just yet. It very much depends on how well Bottas fairs next season whether he’ll have a chance to get a seat at Mercedes come 2019 or not.

      1. @jerejj Maybe just a bit of wishful thinking

  2. Before the season started, this was my pick for the closest teammate battle on the grid. I’d love to see a season or two more of these two racing each other in the same equipment.

    I thought Sergio performed great throughout the year, but I was actually more impressed with Ocon by the end of the season. It just seemed that his learning curve pre summer break kicked in to force in the 2nd half of the season.

    In 2018, I would be surprised if Perez comes out on top.

  3. This was my favourite pairing this season, in part because it was such a surprise. When these two locked horns this year,it provided us with some of the season’s most memorable moments. Ocon proved to everybody that he was not going to be intimidated by Sergio Perez throughout the season, the Frenchman even had to face death threats on the run up to the
    Mexican Grands Prix. Many other young drivers would have found that too steep a mountain to climb, but not Ocon.
    With a French Grands Prix in 2018, the youngster will be able to show his stuff to a home audience. Very impressed by this guy.
    Perez again proved that he has what it takes, Force India are lucky to have him. I really hope that this team can improve next year and that these guys are given the opportunity to threaten the bigs boys.

  4. Force India is a fantastic little team. To be consistently the biggest threat from the midfield to the front-runners for the last few seasons and then to still be there after a rule change is massive. It just shows the breadth and depth of experience and what great people they have making the key decisions in that team.

    Perez is no slouch so to see Ocon running him so close was impressive. If I was a team principal, he’d be a very attractive choice as a driver who clearly is capable of just hoovering up points finishes when they’re there for the taking.

  5. Ocon was definitely the rising star of this season. The stats don’t even fully do him justice, as it was often extremely close between Pérez and him. I can’t think of too many races in which they were separated by more than a few seconds. Most equal driver pairing on the grid, and we probably haven’t even seen the best of Ocon yet.

  6. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
    1st December 2017, 16:38

    I know both Sebastian and Lewis have still many years ahead, but one has to wonder who would be the next “new” champion first, if given great cars: Max Verstappen or Esteban Ocon?

    1. @omarr-pepper If a championship has to be won by being consistent, then Ocon. If it requires some “magic”, then Verstappen. Imagine them both in the same team; it would be like Senna (Verstappen) and Prost (Ocon) all over again, IMHO.

  7. The reliability of the Force India has played a huge part in Ocon’s development this year, what a great team to complete a rookie year with, reliability and consistent battling in midfield. I expect next years battle to be close and Ocon to edge it, interested to see if he can improve his qualifying in 2018.

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