Six races in and only sixth in the standings. It’s not a position you might expect Force India to be in, given their fourth-place finish in last year’s championship. But according to driver Esteban Ocon they'll soon be climbing the order...
The Frenchman's optimism comes after he recorded his best result of the season so far with sixth place in Monaco on Sunday – a result he believes should be a sign of things to come from the team at the next round in Canada and beyond.
“I definitely hope so,” said Ocon, after scoring for only the second time this year. “It hasn’t been an easy start, but with the pace [on Sunday] we have I think we can carry that over the next weekends.”
Ocon ran a long first stint in Monaco and then held off intense pressure from a train of cars comprising Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly, Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in the closing stages to take his first top-ten finish on the famous street circuit.
But it wasn’t just the result that left the Frenchman glowing. It was also the performance – and more importantly potential – of the car he had beneath him, in the form of the Mercedes-powered VJM11.
“The pace we had in the car was unbelievable,” he added. “I was quickest on track at some points which was very, very impressive. I was catching Raikkonen and Bottas by one second a lap at some point.
“I think our understanding of the tyres was really really good, really strong. Today I’m more than happy, the boys are really happy, and I’m looking forward to many more weekends like that.”
A problematic pit stop for team mate Sergio Perez – who came home 12th – meant Ocon’s were the only points Force India scored in Monaco, but they nevertheless moved up a place in the table.
The Silverstone-based squad now have 26 points – seven more than Toro Rosso in seventh and 14 less than McLaren in fifth.