Perez: Ocon replaces 'one of the best' in Hulkenberg

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Sergio Perez believes Esteban Ocon has big shoes to fill at Force India, describing Nico Hulkenberg as "one of the best" drivers in F1.

Hulkenberg made the decision to join Renault over the winter, being released from his Force India contract a year early after three seasons alongside Perez. Mercedes youngster Ocon was signed as Hulkenberg's replacement and Perez believes the Frenchman has the potential to be a success but says he will be following a top quality driver.

"I think Nico is one of the best ones out there," Perez said. "It was very difficult to beat him this year and last year… it has been very competitive between us and we push each other forward quite a lot.

"I learned a lot from him, I don’t know whether he learned a lot from me but I look forward to having a similar level of competitiveness to Esteban. I have heard a lot of good things about him so let’s see how quick he is and how quick he can get on with the new regulations. We are all starting from zero."

And having previously claimed Force India can target a top three position in the constructors' championship in 2017, Perez says Ocon's ability to produce consistent results like Hulkenberg will be crucial to that challenge.

"Definitely. The team went for the best possible driver that they could get. Everyone is happy to have Esteban for next year so let’s hope we can deliver many points to the team."

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