JANUARY 5, 2017

Force India wants to beat top team in 2017 says Ocon

Esteban Ocon says he and Force India are aiming high for 2017.

Esteban Ocon says he and Force India are aiming high for 2017.

The Mercedes-backed, 20-year-old Frenchman made his mid-season F1 debut for backmarker Manor last year, but for 2017 he is stepping up to Force India.

Despite its small budget, Force India finished an impressive fourth overall last year, and Ocon said the team is now aiming even higher.

"Force India's objective in 2017 is to be among the top three constructors," he told the French magazine Auto Hebdo.

"This means we would have to pass a major team, but the new rules means the order could be completely changed next year," Ocon insisted.

And he said he will not get any grace period to settle into his task in 2017, even though it will be his first full season in F1.

"With the discontinuation of the token system, which greatly limited engine development, the gaps should be closed more easily and the established order can be upset. It is for this reason that I am asked to be up to speed right away," Ocon revealed.

"I have signed for two years, but the first year is not to learn," he continued. "My goal is to be in the points at each race, and aim for the top five as often as possible.

"My nine races in 2016 will be useful because I am already in F1 and have learned several circuits, but I will have to discover Melbourne, Shanghai, Monaco and Baku," Ocon said.

"I will also discover a new teammate, Sergio Perez, who is the reference driver of the team. He is one of the top drivers according to some experts, but I will have to beat him, just like the others."

Meanwhile, Ocon said that after a short end-of-year break, he is now training hard.

"I am doing sports five days a week, with cardio, weights and running on the treadmill, to reduce the risk of injury," he revealed.

"I have to build five kilos of muscle, as because the cars will be four to five seconds faster, it will be much more difficult for the drivers," said Ocon.