Ocon finished a career-best 7th in Sochi

Personal progress at Force India pleases Ocon

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Force India driver Esteban Ocon is satisfied by his rate of development since joining the British team at the start of the season. 

The decision to promote the Frenchman over fellow Mercedes junior Pascal Wehrlein did surprise many, with the German impressing for large parts of his rookie year with Manor.

But in his short period of time with the Silverstone-based outfit, Ocon has justified that faith by scoring points in each race and helping Force India to a pretty comfortable fourth in the Constructors' championship.  

"Overall my improvement has been big," Ocon reflected on Thursday. "In Australia, if we check, compared to Checo in Australia, I started not very close from him and then managed to recover all the time. In Bahrain, I was faster in qualifying than him and in Sochi, we were fighting together for more or less the same lap times, the same pace.

"So overall I'm pretty happy with my improvement during the season, my understanding also and how I'm getting along with the team. So that's good. I need to do more steps for the future races."

Asked which area he felt he had gained the most, he added: "I think really qualifying.

"I always feel more comfortable in the race. I've always been struggling a bit more in qualifying. I think in one lap pace I've been improving a lot.

"Also to know how to set up the car with my engineers, I've always had a strong car for the race. I think we improved that a lot on my side. I'm now able to get a good pace in qualifying, so that's good."

As for team-mate Sergio Perez, the Mexican admits he has been left surprised by Force India's results so far this year, claiming they "are not the fourth-fastest team at all".

However, updates aimed at solving a key weakness of the VJM10 are giving Perez reasons to be hopeful.

"Barcelona is one of the biggest [updates] of the year," he told reporters. "Obviously with this new generation of cars, we're going to be evolving quite a lot, the car race by race. We're hoping that this upgrade fixes quite a lot of the issues that we're currently having with the rear of the car. We will see on Friday what it does.

"We're hoping that this upgrade fixes quite a lot of the issues that we're currently having with the rear of the car. We will see on Friday what it does.

"We are optimistic. Barcelona is a very difficult track generally for us. Hopefully, we can have a good Friday, a solid one, and make the most out of it."

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