Motorsport boss Toto Wolff has claimed young Mercedes protege Esteban Ocon must beat Force India teammate Sergio Perez to prove his development from last year.
The Frenchman became known for his 'Oconsistency' in 2017, scoring points in all but two of the 20 races yet he would still finish 13 points behind his Mexican partner in the drivers' standings as the Silverstone outfit dominated the midfield.
As a member of Mercedes' young driver program, some are already wondering if the 21-year-old could be an option for the works team in 2019 - with Valtteri Bottas on a one-year deal - but Wolff is taking his progress one year at a time.
"Esteban performed very well against a very strong Sergio Perez," he was quoted by Autosport.
"[In 2018] he has to take the next step and improve this performance, he is incredibly consistent, makes few mistakes and has great speed but he will have to develop further in this respect and outperform Perez."
The battle between the two Force India drivers is likely to be one of the closest followed after a sometimes explosive relationship last season which saw Ocon and Perez come to blows on several occasions.
Esteban revealed he actually spoke to Wolff about the situation with his teammate, which resulted in Force India bosses implementing team orders, and the Austrian admits he too was discouraged by what occurred.
"What bothers us are these intra-team rivalries that end with two damaged cars," he commented. "This applies not only to Esteban but also to 'Checo' [Perez]. As a team boss, I'm so annoyed by that."
The team orders are set to be dropped for 2018 with COO Otmar Szafnauer believing both men have learnt their lessons from last year.
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