Sergio Perez believes the pressure will be on Force India Formula 1 teammate Esteban Ocon next year to replicate his impressive first season with the team, saying the paddock will “expect big things”.

Ocon stepped up to a full-season seat with Force India in 2017 after spending half a year with backmarker Manor, and produced an impressive campaign that saw him finish the season eighth overall in the final drivers’ standings.

Ocon put up a fight to highly-rated teammate Perez, with the pair making contact on-track on multiple occasions as they fought for position and supremacy within the team.

While Perez beat Ocon by 13 points in the final standings, the Mexican recognised the impressive showing his teammate had produced in his first full season in F1. 

“I think in general he was strong,” Perez said.” I had a bit of a period with a couple of races where we had these rules of engagement where we could not fight each other.

“All of a sudden there my qualifying, we brought some upgrades, and setting up the car with those upgrades, I lacked a lot of balance. I was not feeling comfortable over one lap, and Esteban all of a sudden was quite strong in qualifying.

“I think over that period was where I struggled. I'm pleased that we managed to fix that. We have a very good understanding of what went wrong.

“I'm pretty confident, especially going forward for next year, it's a good starting point for myself.”

Looking ahead to 2018, Perez believes the pressure will be on Ocon to repeat his impressive first year and continue to be a close match at Force India.

“I think the pressure will be on him now because it's the second year for him,” Perez said.

“Everyone will expect big things from him.

“It will be again very close I think.”

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With BWT funding for the whole winter I wish resources will sufice for battling for 5th or 6th, not for 7th or 8th.

Both drivers and the team deserve that.

I think Perez is the one feeling the pressure. He was lucky not to have been beaten by his much younger team mate who was in his first year in F1. Perez is trying to use mind games, but it shows me that he's under pressure to be a more convincing team leader next year.