Rosberg empowered by Schumacher departure

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Nico Rosberg says he enjoys a greater say in affairs at Mercedes following the departure of Michael Schumacher.

Lewis Hamilton replaced Schumacher as Rosberg’s team mate this year. Hamilton and Rosberg were previously team mates in karting in 2000 and 2001.

Rosberg said the team is “very” different in Schumacher’s absence.

“I now have a stronger voice,” Rosberg said, “and to me that’s a beautiful process in which I can help Mercedes become the best team.”

Rosberg and Schumacher joined the team together in 2010 – Rosberg arriving from Williams, Schumacher returning from retirement. Rosberg out-scored Schumacher in each of their three seasons as team mates, amassing 342 points to Schumacher’s 197. Rosberg also scored the team’s breakthrough victory in last year’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Rosberg, who took pole position for the last race in Bahrain, said his aim is on scoring further wins this year, admitting the title is a “big goal”.

“Now I want to win races, because success is the most fun … We want to improve ourselves – in the direction of race wins.”

New team mate Hamilton has finished on the podium twice this year while Rosberg is yet to do so. Hamilton beat Rosberg to a podium finish in Malaysia after Rosberg was ordered to stay behind the sister car in the closing stages.

F1 2017 driver review: Esteban Ocon

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Esteban Ocon

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 31
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P5 (Spain, Mexico)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 87
Championship Position: 8th

A shining star in Mercedes’ junior programme, Esteban Ocon vaulted fellow youngster Pascal Wehrlein in the pecking order to secure a seat at Force India for 2017 – and boy, did he live up to the hype.

Ocon arrived at Force India with half a season of racing under his belt after his outings with Manor late in 2016, but wasted little time in settling in, scoring points on debut in Australia after winning a thrilling three-way fight with Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso.

The Frenchman spent much of the year close to teammate Sergio Perez – even if things did get a little too close in Canada, Baku and, finally, Spa, prompting the team to introduce team orders – and impressed the entire paddock with his displays.

While no podium was forthcoming, Ocon was often leading the midfield fight, enjoying three straight finishes ahead of Perez from Japan to Mexico. Given how well Perez is rated on-track in the paddock, to have convincingly beaten him in such fashion did a lot for Ocon’s reputation.

The term ‘Oconsistency’ also came into F1’s dictionary as he set a new record for consecutive finishes from his first race, with his retirement in Brazil ending the streak at 27 grands prix. It was also his first retirement in a single-seater race since the 2014 Macau Grand Prix.

The highlight moment arguably came at Monza, though, when Ocon stuck his Force India third on the grid through torrential rain in qualifying. While he would drop to P6 at the checkered flag, the display nevertheless cemented his place as one of F1’s rising stars.

Mercedes rates Ocon very highly, and with Valtteri Bottas’ future beyond 2018 already being questioned by the paddock, a good season could see the youngster move on up to the top table of F1 for 2019. His progression in the next 12 months will be fascinating to keep track of.

Season High: Lining up P3 on the grid at Monza after a rainy qualifying.

Season Low: Clashing with Perez in Baku, costing Force India a possible podium.