Sergio Perez admits he is concerned about McLaren moving back ahead of Force India in 2018 following their link-up with Renault.
McLaren have suffered three years of painful underperformance with the Honda power unit and the former world champions are currently second bottom of the Constructors’ Championship.
However, there is a widely held view in the paddock that McLaren possess one of the best chassis on the grid and the switch to Renault power is expected to see them move back to the front of the field.
Force India are on course to finish fourth in the Constructors’ Championship for the second consecutive year but Perez is expecting them to face a stiff test to hold the position in 2018.
“Renault will be a threat but the one I’m more concerned about is McLaren,” Perez told reporters at the Malaysia GP.
“McLaren will be quite strong if all what they’ve been saying about their chassis is true. They should be quite strong next year.
“You will have the Renaults, McLarens and Williams so it will not be an easy one. But all the time I have been in this team people have underestimated us and look where we are. There is good potential.”
Perez has been frequently linked with a move away from Force India but signed a new one-year contract with the team at the Singapore GP.
However, there could be big changes in the driver market for 2019 with seats potentially available at Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault.
And the Mexican, currently seventh in the Drivers’ Championship, hopes a strong 2018 will enable him to take advantage of any opening if it emerges.
“It will be important to be there, having a competitive car to make sure you can be in a good position for what comes up next year,” he said.
“I want to maximise every week the potential, over achieve and keep on scoring. Although we are in a very consolidated fourth position, I think all of us are not totally satisfied with the performance that we had this year.
“It has been a massive margin to the top three teams and we definitely need to close the gap before the season ends. Every update you put in the car this year is helping for the future.”