Sergio Perez says he expects Esteban Ocon to make a significant contribution in Force India's bid to crack the top three when he makes his debut with the team in the 2017 Formula 1 World Championship.
The 2015 GP3 Champion earned a promotion to Force India for 2017 after an eye-catching turn during the second-half of the F1 season with Manor Racing, the Frenchman beating his team-mate Pascal Wehrlein to the drive.
Replacing Nico Hulkenberg in the wake of the team's s best-ever fourth place finish in the constructors' reckoning, Perez – who will enter into a fourth season with the British-based outfit – is confident the youngster will be quick enough pick up where his predecessor leaves off..
“I think Nico is one of the best ones out there. It was very difficult to beat him this year and last year… it has been very competitive between us and we push each other forward quite a lot. I learned a lot from him, I don't know whether he learned a lot from me but I look forward to having a similar level of competitiveness to Esteban.
“I have heard a lot of good things about him so let's see how quick he is and how quick he can get on with the new regulations. We are all starting from zero.”
Indeed, Perez remains optimistic that Ocon's input and the incoming change in the regulations could be an opportunity to crack the top three.
“Definitely [Ocon is quick enough]. “The team went for the best possible driver that they could get. Everyone is happy to have Esteban for next year so let's hope we can deliver many points to the team.