There was very little to choose between Esteban Ocon, in his first full season of Formula One, and his considerably more experienced team mate.
Though Ocon lost out on points he impressed hugely with his consistency and by the second half of the season he was a very close match for Perez on performance – arguably slightly quicker.
|Beat team mate in qualifying
|Beat team mate in race
|Laps spent ahead of team mate
So close was the battle between the pair of them that it got physical on track at times. Both drivers were guilty of not making allowances for the fact they were racing a team mate rather than a rival from another outfit. Nonetheless Ocon made his mark by demonstrating that he wouldn’t be cowed by team’s senior driver.
More often he was able to let his driving do the talking. As the season wore on he became a bigger problem for Perez in qualifying: Having average two-tenths slower than his team mate over the first ten races, Ocon was six-hundredths faster over the remainder. This included an excellent third on the grid at Monza, from where he briefly held second place before drivers from the ‘big three’ teams inevitably thundered past.
This pattern repeated later in the year. For three races in a row Ocon was the first driver home not in a Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull. He was ‘best of the rest’ four times, matching Perez as the most successful midfield driver in this respect.
Only twice all year did he fail to score points. In Monaco he was quick but crashed in qualifying, leaving him out of the points. By Brazil he had broken the record for most consecutive starts at the beginning of a career (starting from his 2016 spell at Manor), but he was taken out of that race by Romain Grosjean.
He displayed a remarkable knack for taking hits yet carrying on to the points. This happened more than once with his team mate, and again when Felipe Massa and Carlos Sainz Jnr hit him in Malaysia.
Ocon was super-consistent, largely error-free and very fast. If there was one aspect of his game we saw little of it was pure race craft, aside from his cheeky move on Daniel Ricciardo at Suzuka. But he is brimming with potential and the addition of further experience may transform him into a star of the future.
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Consistently on par with a more experienced team mate. Very impressed to see how he has been driving taking the most out of his car, taking risks but within an acceptable level most of the time. He has shown more maturity than Perez at times.
What’s your verdict on Esteban Ocon’s 2017 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than him? Have your say in the comments.
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