Esteban Ocon says spending more time on Force India's Formula One simulator and working harder than Sergio Perez has enabled him to "catch up" with his teammate's level of performance.
The duo have been involved in a number of intra-team flashpoints throughout the campaign, most notably colliding with each other in Baku, while Perez refused to allow Ocon past to attack Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo in Canada. Both incidents cost Force India potential podium finishes, though the Silverstone-based outfit is enjoying another successful campaign.
Ocon has been one of the standout performers of the season so far, in what is his first full F1 campaign. The Frenchman has recorded more top 10 finishes in the opening 11 races of 2017 than any drivers outside the top three in the championship and is just 11 points behind Perez, occupying eighth in the standings. Ocon has only beaten Perez in a race in which both drivers have finished on one occasion this season but is satisfied at how quickly he has been able to challenge his more experienced teammate.
"I have to work very hard," Ocon told the official F1 website. "I have a lot less experience than Sergio (Perez) so I have to catch up on so many details that come naturally to him. Before and after each race I am mostly in the factory for simulator work. I think that is what makes a big difference. I am not here to stay behind him all the time. I want to push, very hard."
When how asked how much more time is he putting in compared to Perez, Ocon replied: "I don't want to say a number -- so let's put it this way: a lot more!"
Force India occupies a comfortable fourth place in the constructors' standings -- 60 points clear of rivals Williams -- having only failed to score points with at least one car in Monaco. Despite the disappointment of missing out on a possible maiden podium in Canada, Ocon rates his drive to sixth place as his best performance of the year so far.
"My personal best race was Canada," he said. "There I was feeling the best. But a great memory was also Barcelona, when the guys climbed the fence and were shouting at us -- that was very special. In that moment finishing in P4 and P5 was just like a one-two finish. You cannot plan success. We respect the targets that we set at the start of the season -- which means scoring points at every race. And that is pretty much what I am doing."