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Esteban Ocon leaves Force India owner Vijay Mallya 'very impressed'

Frenchman claimed ninth point-scoring finish at British GP and beat team-mate Perez for first time

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 06:  Esteban Ocon of France and Force India in the Paddock during previews to the Formula One Grand Prix of China at Shanghai Inter

Force India owner Vijay Mallya says he has been "very impressed" by Esteban Ocon's performances in his first full season in F1.

The Frenchman replaced Nico Hulkenberg at Force India at the start of the year, having driven for the now defunct Manor team in the second half of 2016, and has scored points in nine of the 10 races so far.

Ocon finished ahead of team-mate Sergio Perez for the first time at the British GP and Mallya expects the 20-year-old to get better as he gains more experience.

"Esteban has come up to speed really well and a little quicker than I thought," Mallya said at Silverstone.

"I'm very impressed with him. We had a tough call to make over the winter on who our driver was going to be. There were only rookies available and I think we made the right choice.

Image: Esteban Ocon has scored points in nine races

"For a guy who had all of [nine] F1 races under his belt for Manor in 2016, he's been right out of the blocks and into the points since Australia. I'm very impressed.

"He's only going to mature and get better. Experience is hugely important and the more experience he gets, the better he is going to become. He has the talent.

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"It's lovely to have him signed up on a multi-year contract so I'm expecting regular point-scoring finishes from him."

Ocon's best finish of the season so far has been fifth at May's Spanish GP while his starting position of seventh at Silverstone was his joint-best in F1.

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A recap of how Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton cut Sebastian Vettel's title lead to just one point with Silverstone victory as Ferrari suffered late punctures.

The Mercedes junior's results have helped Force India move comfortably into fourth in the Constructors' Championship with 95 points and Mallya is setting his targets high over the remainder of the season.

"We are up to 95 points in 10 races, we never had this kind of points tally ever in the history of the team that I can remember," he said.

"We're 54 ahead of Williams, our nearest competitor, so we are slowly but steadily consolidating ourselves in fourth position. Let's see what opportunities the second half of the season throws up.

"I'm not giving up on chasing Red Bull, it's always very good to set your targets high because that allows you to really challenge yourself.

"Whether we get that or not, finishing fourth for the second consecutive is a very creditable achievement."

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