Ocon turned in an impressive drive to sixth in Canada, a result which could have been higher if Force India teammate had made teammate Sergio Perez move over at a critical point in the race to attack third-placed Daniel Ricciardo. In 2015 Mercedes boss Wolff signed Ocon to the team’s junior programme after the Frenchman beat Max Verstappen to the European Formula 3 championship the previous season and supported him throughout his title-winning GP3 campaign.
Wolff thinks the 20-year-old is destined for great things in the sport.
“Force India could have done many more points,” Wolff said after the race in Canada. “He did a great race. Really fantastic for his first season. He’s developing just in the right way, he’s going to be a superstar of the future.”
Force India chose Ocon over another driver on Mercedes’ books, Pascal Wehrlein, after the pair raced against each other for the second half of the 2016 season at Manor. Ocon has been immediately competitive at the team and often very close to Perez’s times, a gap which seems to be closing up every weekend.
Otmar Szafnauer, the team’s chief operating officer, thinks Ocon’s fast start to life with the team will help push it forward in the quest for fourth position in the championship.
“It’s one of the reasons we chose him. It’s hard to predict the future but we’re happy he’s done what we thought he could do.”
“We’ve got two drivers that can work together and now they’re close together which means they’ll be pushing each other. We had that with Nico [Hulkenberg] and Sergio and we were a little unsure with Esteban, we thought, but he’s quickly gotten up to speed now and that will just push both of them forward.”