Sergio Perez expects Esteban Ocon to be an even tougher teammate to beat this year after the pair fought an intense, and at times bitter, battle last year.
Force India goes into the 2018 season attempting to retain its position as best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull but is expecting to face added competition for the position from McLaren and Renault. A clear fourth place finish last year meant squabbling between the two Force India drivers was not too damaging for the team, but Perez says things will be different in 2018.
"The good thing was how we finished last year and how we ended it working together," Perez said when asked to reflect on his relationship with Ocon. "That is the same approach we have to go into this year with as it is very important that we keep working together, keep working hard for the benefit of the team. Especially at this stage of the season.
"Now he has experience we have to push the team forward together to get the best possible result because it is going to be a massive year for Force India as there are big teams coming and big teams that are going to push us very hard. I believe it is going to be a hard year for us."
Perez finished 13 points clear of Ocon last year but is expecting his teammate to be even more competitive in his second year with Force India.
"Yes, you never stop learning in Formula One and he is going to have more experience but it is always good to have a competitive teammate next to you. I believe that I will get better as well so it will be a hard battle but in F1 your first reference is your teammate and I believe Esteban is a good one to have."
Asked if he had made contact with Ocon over the winter, Perez added: "No. Not at all. I didn't send flowers to him, let's put it that way. There was not a lot of communication and everyone wanted to have a quiet time. We both know we are not like best friends but we both respect each other and we want to work well for the benefit of the team."